Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV leaving the Senate parking area with Metro police chief Guillermo Eleazar in a police vehicle
Geremy Pintolo
Trillanes arrested, posts bail
Robertzon Ramirez, Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2018 - 12:00am

Senator won’t go home, sees more ‘legal harassment’

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday yielded to the police and posted bail before the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) on charges of rebellion.

Trillanes was picked up at the Senate by a team of policemen led by National Capital Regional Police Office chief Director Guillermo Eleazar, accompanied by a court sheriff.

Trillanes posted bail of P200,000 on charges of rebellion before the Makati court.

Before he was allowed to post bail, Trillanes underwent booking procedures with his mug shots taken at the Makati City Police.

Earlier in the day, Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda ordered the arrest of Trillanes, almost three weeks after President Duterte voided his amnesty and revived the charges of rebellion against him in failed uprisings in 2003 and 2007.

In a 22-page order, the court also granted the motion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a hold departure order to prevent Trillanes from leaving the country.

The court said there was “factual and legal basis” for Duterte’s order to detain the rebel officer-turned-politician under Proclamation No. 572.

Duterte issued Proclamation 572 on Aug. 31, revoking the amnesty granted to Trillanes and directing the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)  to “apprehend” the opposition senator and recommit him to the detention facility where he had been incarcerated prior to the grant of amnesty in 2011.

It also directed the DOJ and the AFP court-martial “to pursue all criminal and administrative cases” filed against Trillanes in relation to the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and Manila Peninsula siege in 2007.

Trillanes was granted amnesty by then president Benigno Aquino III on Nov. 24, 2010 through Proclamation No. 75 along with his fellow rebel officers of the Magdalo group over the 2007 rebellion. 

The government, through the DOJ, sought the issuance of the arrest warrant after Duterte said Trillanes should be not be arrested in the absence of a court order.

The court considered the argument of the prosecution that Trillanes failed to present a valid copy of his amnesty application form.

“Evidently, he failed to present the original hard copy, a duplicate copy or even a photocopy showing that he personally accomplished and filed with the (defense department) Amnesty Committee his official amnesty application form duly acknowledged and stamp marked received by said office,” Alameda said. 

“A cursory examination of the omnibus motion filed by the prosecution to issue warrant of arrest and hold departure order against Senator Trillanes reveals that it raised valid grounds that require factual determination of the issues in order to arrive at a just resolution, so that none of the parties would be deprived of due process,” he said. 

The court said the state would be deprived of due process if the case of rebellion against Trillanes is not revived.

“The order of dismissal was issued in contravention of the ‘Rules and Procedures in the processing of amnesty application pursuant to Proclamation No. 75 series of 2010’,” Alameda said. 

Alameda was the same judge who dismissed the rebellion case against Trillanes following the amnesty granted to him under Proclamation No. 75.

He said the dismissal order, “being a void order, it has no legal and binding effect, force or efficacy for any purpose.” 

He added the Sept. 7, 2011 dismissal order is already nonexistent, which means it cannot attain finality “and the doctrine of immutability of judgment cannot apply.”    

“This court is not unaware of the rule that a final judgment may no longer be altered even if the alteration is meant to correct erroneous conclusion of fact or law,” Alameda said. 

He said the doctrine of double jeopardy does not apply in the case of Trillanes since it not does follow the general rule and the dismissal of the case was void from the start. 

The hearing on the case against Trillanes was scheduled on Nov. 21.

State prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, on the other hand, said they are neither happy nor sad about the court’s decision treating it like a regular criminal case.

“We will let the Rules of Criminal Procedure take its own course as in any other criminal case… ours is just a duty to prosecute where there is probable cause,” Navera said.

‘I hope he’s watching’

Eleazar said Trillanes did not resist arrest and calmly went with them to court.

He said they waited at the office of Senate sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia before they were escorted to the senators’ lounge at around 3 p.m. where Trillanes was waiting.

“I did not touch the warrant (of arrest). Arresting him (Trillanes) was not my business,” Balajadia later told reporters.

Eleazar read Trillanes his rights after the sheriff served the warrant.

Trillanes was not cuffed when he boarded the police van on the way to the Makati Police for booking procedures before going to the court for filing of bail.

When asked if he had anything to say to Duterte, the former Navy officer remarked: “I hope he’s watching this now because he will go through the same procedure soon.”

He said he could still be locked up by authorities for other reasons, considering Duterte’s zeal to have him and other critics jailed.

Some lawmakers went with Trillanes to oversee the arrest procedure. He was accompanied by Sens. Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros.

After undergoing court procedures, Trillanes was released late in the afternoon and returned to the Senate.

Earlier in the day, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will not allow any forcible arrest of any member of the chamber, even as he disclosed that Trillanes assured him that he will yield peacefully.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the authorities must ensure Trillanes’ safety.

“Since the charge, by order of the court, is bailable, his security must be ensured by the State,” Recto said.

Sen. Grace Poe expressed confidence Trillanes can defend himself but questioned the revocation of his amnesty, especially that it was concurred with by both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Poe warned future amnesty proclamations will be viewed with distrust.

“I hope and pray the courts will be objective and fair. It’s clear the amnesty went through Congress. That should be a basis (for its legality),” she said.

To silence dissent

Vice President Leni Robredo, who was at the Senate yesterday for the hearing of the proposed 2019 budget of her office, said the issuance of the warrant against Trillanes was a development of the Duterte administration’s effort to silence dissent.

“Dissent is very important in a healthy democracy. There should be a place for dissenting views. This can only help in governance. Just because there is dissent doesn’t mean that there is an intention to cause any harm,” Robredo said.

Pangilinan said that while they respect the order of the court, “we disagree with it.”

“It is as clear as day that the revocation of the grant of amnesty is illegal and an abuse of presidential powers must be vigorously opposed,” Pangilinan said.

Aquino, for his part, called for an end to the threats and intimidation against members of the opposition.

He said the administration has neglected the needs of the people with its insistence on going after Trillanes and other critics of the administration.

Hontiveros condemned the issuance of the warrant against Trillanes, saying that this is “a black eye for democracy and rule of law as our courts caved in to the whims of President Duterte.” 

Rights defenders said the arrest of Trillanes is part of the persecution of critics of the Duterte administration.

Carlos Conde, Human Rights Watch Researcher-Asia Division, said the arrest is the latest in the relentless campaign to silence those who dare to challenge Duterte’s murderous drug war. 

“He (Trillanes) has likewise supported the International Criminal Court’s preliminary examination of the complaints against President Duterte related to the drug war,” he said.

Trillanes’ arrest sends a chilling effect among other critics of the Duterte administration, the group said.  – Marvin Sy, Rhodina Villanueva, Cecille Suerte Felipe, AP

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