The opposition senator and arch critic of President Duterte might have secured a travel permit from the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 in a rebellion case against him, but he still has to hurdle motions of the DOJ to stop his foreign trips in two other courts.
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DOJ seeks HDO vs Trillanes in sedition, libel cases
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has moved to block the flight of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV amid a string of criminal cases in various courts.

The opposition senator and arch critic of President Duterte might have secured a travel permit from the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 in a rebellion case against him, but he still has to hurdle motions of the DOJ to stop his foreign trips in two other courts. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said prosecutors have filed motions for issuance of hold departure order (HDO) against Trillanes before the Pasay and Davao RTCs where he is facing inciting to sedition and libel cases, respectively.

Trillanes is set to fly to the Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom from Dec. 11, 2018 to Jan. 12, 2019, and the US from Jan. 27 to Feb. 10, 2019 to meet different groups and attend various activities as part of his official duties.

The camp of Trillanes branded as a desperate effort by the DOJ the filing of separate petitions for HDOs against him before trial courts in Davao and Pasay.  

Trillanes’ lawyer Reynaldo Robles said that the DOJ is now persecuting the senator since it is aware that the Pasay court could not issue a travel ban, being a Municipal Trial Court (MTC). 

Robles emphasized that the Davao court will also not issue an HDO against Trillanes since there is still no pending case filed against him as all charges are still at the city prosecutor’s office. 

“That’s the height of their apparent desperation,” Robles said, adding, “For them to initiate it, it is premature. It shows their bias and apparent move to persecute Trillanes, who is a known critic of the administration. It’s already outside the duty of the DOJ, persecuting the senator.”

Guevarra clarified that the new motions in the Pasay and Davao courts were “coincidental” and were not filed following the decision of Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda last Nov. 29 that granted Trillanes’ motion to travel in exchange for a P200,000 travel bond.

“It has no connection with that (ruling of Makati RTC). Those are cases which are independent of the rebellion and coup d’etat charges in Makati. These are not related at all. There are different complainants here and they are pending in other courts. And just like in any case where the jurisdiction belongs to the RTC, it is the right of and prerogative of the prosecution to ask for the issuance of an HDO,” he explained yesterday during the 4th International Dialogue on Human Trafficking in Pasay City.

“It’s not planned. It just so happens that there are other cases pending against Sen. Trillanes – some for inciting to sedition and some for libel. These are pending elsewhere in other RTCs and the prosecution has the right to file a motion for the issuance of an HDO in those courts,” he clarified.

The DOJ chief said the Davao RTC handling the libel case filed against Trillanes by presidential son and former vice mayor Paolo Duterte will hear DOJ’s motion today.

The inciting to sedition case before the Pasay RTC, on the other hand, was filed earlier this year in connection with a privilege speech where Trillanes supposedly suggested that the military might use an M60 machine gun against President Duterte for his alleged hidden wealth.

Guevarra pointed out that the filing of the motions for HDO before the court was a matter of procedure in criminal cases.

“A motion for the issuance of a HDO is something that is SOP (standard operating procedure). It has nothing to do with a denial of the motion for HDO in the Makati cases,” he said.

He added that prosecutors filed an appeal to the ruling of the Makati RTC Branch 150.

Judge Alameda had earlier granted DOJ’s motion for issuance of HDO against Trillanes, agreeing with the prosecutors that the senator is a “flight risk.”   

But in his latest ruling, the judge cited the senator’s “past actions” which “demonstrate his willingness to abide with the conditions imposed for his provisional liberty, specifically his appearance before this court when required and do what the court may require of him.”

The rebellion case before Makati RTC Branch 150 stemmed from the senator’s role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege. A separate coup d’etat case before the Makati RTC Branch 148 was filed against him for leading the Oakwood mutiny in 2003. 

Both cases were revived after the President voided the amnesty granted to Trillanes by the previous administration through a proclamation issued last September. With Robertzon Ramirez

ANTONIO TRILLANES IV DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LIBEL SEDITION
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