President Rodrigo Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court to junk Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s petition against President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 572.
Miguel de Guzman/File
Calida urges SC to junk Trillanes petition vs Proclamation 572
Kristine Joy Patag ( - September 24, 2018 - 5:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court to junk Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s petition against President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 572 voiding amnesty granted to the senator in 2011.

Aside from insisting that Trillanes did not admit guilt to his crime—a matter that Calida said should be raised before trial courts or the Court of Appeals—the government’s top legal counsel went beyond the text of Proclamation 572 in the Comment he filed Monday.

The solicitor general argued that Proclamation 75, which granted amnesty to the senator, “is void and violating of the constitution.”

READ: Gov't looks beyond proclamation to justify voiding Trillanes amnesty

The solicitor general argued that “the power to grant clemency is a non-delegable power and solely the president’s prerogative which must be exercised by the president personally and exclusively”

“This is not an instance where the doctrine of qualified political agency applies,” Calida said.

Citing Villena v. Secretary of the Interior — a 1939 decision on a petition questioning the Secretary of the Interior's power to suspend a mayor under investigation — the solicitor general said that “clemency must be exercised by the president personally and no amount of approval and ratification will validate the exercise of that power by any other person.”

Calida emphasized part of the decision that reads:

"There are certain constitutional power and prerogatives of the Chief Executive of the Nation which must be exercised by him in person and no amount of approval and ratification will validate the exercise of those powers by any other person. Such, for instance, is his power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and proclaim martial law (par. 3, sec. 11, Art. vII) and the exercise by him of the benign prerogative of mercy (par. 6, sec. 11, idem)."

Government’s ‘evolving’ theory

Earlier, Reynaldo Robles, Trillanes’ lawyer, hit the government for espousing an “evolving theory” to defend Proclamation 572.

He said that the “theory” came out for Duterte’s mouth in a controlled interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo last Tuesday.

“In fact, sinabi nga niya dun sa interview na ‘yun. ‘Wala na tayo dun. Wala na tayo sa issue na nag-apply ba ng amnesty si Sen. Trillanes or nag-admit ba ng guilt,” the lawyer said.

(In fact, he said in that interview that 'we're no longer there.'. We're no longer on the issue of whether Sen. Trillanes applied for amnesty or admitted guilt.)

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, however, said in a chance interview that they are focusing on the argument that Trillanes’ amnesty is void “because he did not file and did not comply with requirements, including the fact that he did not admit his guilt explicitly.”

But Navera said that since the arguments in the case “develop over time,” their rebuttal will still depend on what the defense will put forth.

“If there are new issues raised, then probably we can raise other issues to rebut,” he added.

SC petition reliefs same with RTC case

The solicitor general also said that Trillanes’ petition should be dismissed as his case before the SC also touches on issues raised before trial courts.

Calida pointed out that the relief sought by Trillanes before the SC and trial courts is anchored on whether Proclamation 572 is valid.

“The instant petition puts into question the validity of Proclamation 572, which is also subject for determination of the trial courts, in resolving the motions for the issuance of warrants of arrest and [hold departure orders] filed by the Department of Justice,” the Comment read.

“The eventual resolution of the RTCs on the motions for the issuance of alias warrant and hold departure order would have the effect of res judicata [a matter already judged] on the present petition and vice versa,” he added.

Trillanes camp earlier on Monday filed their Rejoinder on the DOJ’s reply before Makati RTC Branch 150. The case is now deemed submitted for resolution.

Meanwhile, DOJ is expected to file their Reply to Trillanes’ supplemental comment before Makati RTC Branch 148.

Once the prosecution’s Reply is filed, the case will be deemed submitted for resolution.

Duterte: Calida brought up 'mistake' in Trillanes amnesty

Duterte earlier said that it was Solicitor General Jose Calida who said that “there’s a mistake” in the grant of the amnesty. “It has to be corrected, I cannot refuse,” the president said last September 8.

Defense SecretaryDelfin Lorenzana also said that he received a call from Calida inquiring about the amnesty papers of “Trillanes and his men.” The solicitor general also sent someone to “research” on the issue.

READ: DND chief allowed Jose Calida’s check on Trillanes records

Trillanes initiated a probe into the alleged impropriety of Calida’s stock ownership of a security agency that has bagged multimillion-peso contracts with several government agencies. The Senate hearing on the issue was scheduled on the same day that Proclamation 572 was published in the classified ads section of the Manila Times.

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