Trillanes, 35 others charged in court for rebellion
- Mike Frialde () - December 4, 2007 - 12:00am

The Department of Justice (DO) filed non-bailable rebellion charges with the Makati City Regional Trial Court yesterday against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former vice president Teofisto Guingona and a handful of former military officers and their alleged civilian supporters in connection with the Peninsula hotel takeover on Nov. 29.

The filing came after a weekend of marathon deliberation on the complaint against the accused submitted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group or CIDG.

But in the DOJ case, the number of the accused was pared down from 50 to 36. The list does not include Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, who is at large with a P1-million bounty on his head.

Prosecutors said 14 of the original accused were ordered released temporarily for further investigation on Dec. 17.

The accused, except Faeldon, were put on a hold-departure list. It was not immediately clear why Faeldon was not on the list.

Also charged with rebellion were Trillanes’ father Antonio III, former Scout Rangers chief Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, retired Bishop Julio Labayen, “running priest” Robert Reyes, Capt. Gary Alejano, Capt.   Segundino Orfiano Jr., Ltsg Manuel Cabochan, Ltsg James Layug, Ltjg Arturo Pascua, Lt. Eugene Peralta, Lt. Andy Torrato, 1Lt. Billy Pascua, 1Lt Jonnel Sangalang, Ensign Armand Pontejos, lawyers JV Bautista and Argee Guevarra, former University of the Philippines President Francisco Nemenzo, Julius Mesa, Cezari Yassir Gonzales, Cpl. Clecarte Dahan, Pfc. Juanito Jilbury, Pfc. Emmanuel Tirador, Pfc. German Linde, Myrna Buendia, Dominador Rull Jr., Romeo Solis, Roel Gadon, Rommel Loreto, Julian Advincula, Francisco Bosi, Leodor dela Cruz, Sonny Madarang, actress Elizabeth Orteza Siguion-Reyna and Francisco Peñaflor.

Ordered released for further preliminary investigation were lawyer El Cid Fajardo, columnist Herman Tiu Laurel, Leonido Toledo Jr., Evangeline Mendoza, Jose Albert, Eduardo Castro, Ferdinand Sandoval, Julio Ancheta, Stella Guingona, Maamor Lanto, Romeo Dacles, Ryan Custodio, Edgardo Tulalay and Rey Linaac.

In a DOJ resolution that formed the basis for the filing of the court cases against the accused, rebellion was defined as an act of rising publicly and taking up arms against the government.

Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco led the DOJ panel whose members are State Prosecutor Philip dela Cruz, State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes and Prosecuting Attorney II Alvin Navarro. Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Miguel Gudio approved the filing of the charges.

The accused are detained at Camp Crame, except for Guingona, Orteza, Labayen and Nemenzo who were allowed to leave detention on humanitarian grounds. They are required to appear before the court if summoned.

The accused underwent inquest on Friday night until early Saturday morning.  

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters that they were also trying to identify the financiers of the hotel siege.

“Adventurism of this nature will not happen if there are no people behind funding them. We want to take hold of these people. We want to know who were the conduits,” he said.

He added that aside from rebellion charges, the accused may also be facing additional charges for economic sabotage.

“That is a long shot. I am not entertaining that but we are studying that if it would fit the human security act,” he said. 

DOJ resolution ‘fair’

The Philippine National Police said the DOJ resolution was “fair” because there were enough grounds for the filing of rebellion charges.

“The decision was fair. The prosecutors apparently appreciated the evidence we presented to them during the inquest proceedings last Friday,” a veteran investigator who declined to be named said.

He also clarified that the decision of the DOJ four-man panel to release the other personalities does not mean they have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

“The prosecutors ordered the release of the other respondents but it does not mean they have been cleared or are off the hook. The decision was only meant to allow the respondents to present their side and the police to present more evidence against the respondents,” he added.

He said the prosecutors gave weight to the evidence police presented to them including video footage showing Trillanes, Guingona and their companions calling for a people power revolt against President Arroyo.

“We have strong evidence against Trillanes and their groups, everybody saw  what he did in Manila Peninsula on national television and he cannot deny that,” he said.

Superintendent Rommel Miranda, PNP deputy spokesman, said he is confident Trillanes and his group will not be able to escape detention.

“They have been restricted inside their cell and their guards have been instructed to establish no close contact with the detainees,” Miranda said.

CBCP to help Labayen

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said yesterday it would provide legal and other necessary assistance to the 81-year-old Labayen.

“It’s up to them to pursue rebellion charges. I think they should reconsider. But if they have enough basis, there will be lawyers to defend Bishop Labayen,” CBCP public affairs chair and Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr. said.  He said Labayen is willing to face the charges and “fight for his principles.”

But Iniguez said he was not sure if the CBCP would extend the same assistance to Fr. Reyes.

CBCP president and Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has already appealed for a lenient treatment for Labayen “on account of his age.”

“Bishop Labayen experienced in the hands of this military what he did not undergo even in the time of Marcos dictatorship. Bishop Labayen is already 81 years old,” Lagdameo said.

“The advocacy that Bishop Labayen had been doing is for the country to be restored to genuine democracy and justice, which is worth fighting for,” he added.

Labayen, one of the three spiritual leaders of opposition-leaning group Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME), joined Trillanes at a press conference at the Peninsula and even called on the people to reject Mrs. Arroyo.

Two other prelates – Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias and Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani – also went to the hotel, but reportedly left before the government assault.

Iniguez said the act of Labayen was “not representative of the stand of CBCP although our president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo is aware of this.” - with Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edu Punay, Rudy Santos

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