Jose Calida demands apology from Trillanes
Christina Mendez, Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida yesterday revealed his plan to file criminal and civil suits against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV for publicly accusing him of stealing his amnesty application record.

“Unless Mr. Trillanes expresses his sincere apology for calling me a thief, I shall be constrained to file a criminal case for libel plus damages against him,” Calida declared in a statement.

Several criminal and civil cases have been filed against Trillanes by presidential son and former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte and Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras. This is aside from the revival of the coup d’etat and rebellion cases over his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege after President Duterte issued Proclamation 572 to void the amnesty granted him by the previous administration.

The proclamation cited as one of the bases the supposed failure of Trillanes to formally file for amnesty since records of the Armed Forces of the Philippines showed that he did not have any application form.

The “missing” document was the main reason cited by Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda in granting the government’s plea to issue an arrest warrant and hold departure order last Monday.

The court dismissed in 2011 the rebellion charges after former president Benigno Aquino III issued the amnesty.

Trillanes was able to post P200,000 bail.

Judge Andres Soriano of Makati RTC Branch 148 is set to rule next week on the similar pleading filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the coup d’etat case, a non-bailable offense.

“The putschist Mr. Trillanes ranted to the media yesterday (Wednesday) that I ‘stole’ his amnesty application document. In effect, Mr. Trillanes maliciously branded me as a thief, which I’m not. Obviously, Mr. Trillanes’ rationality (assuming he had one) has deserted him,” he stressed.

The solicitor general explained that such application form did not exist, citing the certification issued by Lt. Col. Thea Joan Andrade, chief of the Discipline, Law and Order Division of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, which is the custodian of records, that said “there is no available copy of Trillanes’ application for amnesty in the records.”  

“Second, I have never entered the offices of the J1 or the Personnel Division of the AFP at Camp Aguinaldo so how could I ‘steal’ documents kept there?” Calida pointed out.

The top government lawyer also reiterated that the basis for the issuance of proclamation was also the failure of Trillanes to admit to his crimes.

“Trillanes did not express his guilt for the crimes which he committed, like the Oakwood coup d’etat and the Manila Peninsula rebellion, when he stated during an interview on Jan. 5, 2011 that ‘they were not admitting guilt to the mutiny and coup d’etat charges lodged against them both in the civil and military courts’ and ‘I would like to qualify that we did not admit to the charge of coup d’etat or anything (that have been filed against us because) we believe (that those were not the proper charges against us),’” Calida explained.

He added that if this “convoluted logic” is followed, then “he’s saying that he did not commit the crimes that were covered by the amnesty. If that is what he really means, then he has no need for amnesty because when one applies for amnesty he must expressly admit his guilt to the crimes he committed. Moreover, DND-AC Circular No. 1 further requires the applicants to recant all previous statements inconsistent with the requirement of admission of that guilt, which he never did.”

Calida earlier asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition of Trillanes seeking to void the proclamation for alleged violations of the Constitution.  

The high court rejected the plea of the senator for issuance of a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the proclamation, saying the case involves factual issues that only the Makati RTC could resolve.

Makati RTC Branch 150, on the other hand, ruled that Proclamation 572 remains valid and the rebellion case has been revived unless the SC rules otherwise.  

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Palace would wait on the DOJ move while stressing that it wants the most responsible in the mutiny and the coup d’etat to face the consequences of their destabilization moves.

“Now, why is he being singled out? You know, there is what is known as equal protection of the law that persons similarly situated must be treated in the same manner. But there is also what is known as the reason of basis, as an exception to the equal protection clause… and I dare say that the fact that he is the acknowledged leader of the Magdalo mutineers is a reasonable basis for singling Trillanes out,” Roque said.

He added that, in effect, the government is sending the message that it would be “enough to punish the leaders” and would not bother with the rank and file.

Asked if the President wants Trillanes detained or jailed, Roque said the Chief Executive merely wants to implement the law.

“And, if as a consequence of it, he will be detained, so be it. That is the power and the duty of the President,” he added. “This is not political persecution. This is a political gift for him, because we have given him the limelight.”

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