MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has insisted there are enough bases to proceed with the rebellion case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes and order his arrest.
These bases are the Supreme Court (SC) ruling giving the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) a freehand in resolving the DOJ's plea for the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold departure order (HDO) against Trillanes, and the senator’s “failure" to present proof that he duly applied for amnesty over the 2003 and 2007 ‘Magdalo group’ uprisings.
This is the main argument of the DOJ in its reply filed with Makati City RTC Branch 150 on Wednesday, Sept. 19, in response to the comment-opposition lodged by the lawmaker on the state prosecutors’ motion for arrest warrant and HDO.
The DOJ filed the motion in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation No. 572 that voided the amnesty granted Trillanes in 2011 by then President Benigno Aquino III.
According to Duterte, the amnesty must be voided for the absence of any evidence on record of Trillanes’ compliance with the requirements for filling up of a standard application form and a written admission of guilt for his participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
The trial court junked the rebellion case against Trillanes over the 2007 siege in light of the amnesty grant.
In its motion, the DOJ argued that the basis for the dismissal no longer exists.
A similar motion was filed by state prosecutors before the Makati RTC Branch 148 where Trillanes was separately indicted for coup d’etat over the 2003 mutiny. The case was also junked on Sept. 21, 2011 on the same ground cited by RTC branch 150.
“This honorable court has the authority to issue a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order against accused Trillanes. It has not lost jurisdiction over the case. No less than the Supreme Court en banc, in its resolution dated Sept. 11, 2018, acknowledged the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts of Makati to hear and resolve the pleadings/motions filed by the parties,” the DOJ’s reply stated.
The DOJ further argued that during the Sept. 14 court hearing on its motion, Trillanes failed to present proof of his duly accomplished amnesty application form with stamp ‘received’ by the Department of National Defense (DND) which processed the amnesty pleas, contrary to his claim that he faithfully complied with said requirement.
“[A]s aptly pointed out by this honorable court (RTC) during the motion hearing, the best evidence that accused could submit to prove his claim is a copy of his application form bearing the receiving mark/stamp of the DND. This, the accused failed to do,” the motion pointed out.
As to the requirement of admission of guilt, the DOJ explained that Trillanes also failed to comply with this, based on a media interview he gave where he was quoted to have said, “I would like to qualify that we did not admit to the charge of ‘coup d’ etat’ or anything na finile sa amin because we believe hindi iyon ang nararapat na charge na ginawa sa amin.”
The DOJ stressed that Trillanes’ “failure to comply with the minimum requirements set for by law pertaining to the grant of his amnesty,” led to the voiding of the reprieve.
“Since Proclamation No. 572 declared void ab initio (from the very beginning) the amnesty granted to accused Trillanes for being flawed and/or defective for reasons solely attributable to him, it is as if no amnesty was granted to him.”
Thus, the dismissal of the case was a “void judgment,” the DOJ added.
The reply was signed by acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, and Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina Dugay and Evee Eunice Keyser.
Trillanes has been holed up at the Senate for weeks for fear he may be arrested based on Duterte’s order.
Apart from ordering the DOJ to pursue Trillanes’ prosecution over the criminal cases, the president also directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines to pursue the unterminated administrative charges against him via court martial.