Trillanes wins at Court of Appeals: Ruling reviving rebellion case reversed

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Trillanes wins at Court of Appeals: Ruling reviving rebellion case reversed
File photo shows Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in a press conference at the Senate where he stayed pending the government's pleas to issue a warrant of arrest against him over the his revoked amnesty.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:25 p.m.) — The Court of Appeals granted former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s bid to reverse the Makati court’s ruling that revived the rebellion case against him over the supposed revocation of amnesty granted to him and others from the Magdalo group during the Aquino administration.

The Court of Appeals Sixth Division granted Trillanes’ petition for certiorari challenging the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150’s orders dated Sept. 25, 2018 which granted the Department of Justice’s plea for an arrest warrant against the senator, and the subsequent Dec. 18, 2018 order that upheld it.

READ: Makati court orders Trillanes' arrest for rebellion case

The Sept. 25, 2018 order effectively revived the rebellion case against Trillanes over the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007. The court, then under now-retired Judge Elmo Alameda, said Trillanes “failed to convince the Court that he indeed complied with the minimum requirement” in applying for amnesty, effectively reviving the case against the senator.

The CA ordered the reversal of two Makati court orders that effectively reopened the trial. “The assailed orders…having been issued by the respondent court that no longer had jurisdiction on a dismissed criminal action and that acted with grave abuse of discretion, are set aside and vacated,” the order read.

Trillanes, in a statement, thanked the CA justices who wrote the ruling. “Today, the rule of law prevailed… Sana all na judges and justices ay may ganitong sense of justice to check the prevailing authoritarianism in the country,” he added.

Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. penned the decision, with concurrences from Associate Justices Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob and Angelen Mary Quimpo-Sale.

CA: Makati court committed grave abuse of discretion

In resolving the petition, the CA said that a conditional amnesty, which was granted to Trillanes, may be revoked “if it is later found that the grantee breached the conditions upon which the amnesty was granted or if it becomes known that he failed to fulfill them originally.”

In Trillanes’ case, President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 issued Proclamation 572 stating that the amnesty was void from the beginning as the senator did not admit guilt—an admission of guilt was included in the application form for amnesty, but the military says it has no record of Trillanes filing one.

The CA pointed out that the DOJ did not file an action for the annulment of or the relief from the Makati court’s Sept. 7, 2011 ruling that dismissed the rebellion case against Trillanes. The government lawyers also did not move for the invalidation of the order through a certiorari.

The order that dismissed the case was also assailed through the Omnibus Motion filed in the case which prayed for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the CA said.

“Tested against the outlined procedural standards above, the remedy resorted to by the DOJ cannot be anything else but irregular and improper. The respondent court gravely abused its discretion when it took cognizance of DOJ’s Omnibus Motion, set aside its Order of [Sept. 7, 2011] and revived the criminal action against the petitioner,” the ruling read.

The appeals court also said that to look into whether the September 2011 ruling is a void judgment would require an inquiry into the factual basis of Proclamation 572. A full, evidential hearing should be held, it added.

RELATED: A duel of documents: DOJ, Trillanes cite different rulings

It noted that the Makati RTC Branch 150 merely conducted a summary hearing, while Branch 148—which dismissed DOJ’s plea which sought a warrant based on the same Duterte proclamation—conducted a full evidentiary hearing. 

The Makati Branch 148 also received documentary and testimonial evidence including from then-officials of the defense department and those who witnessed the submission of the amnesty application, while Branch 150 “limited itself only to hearing oral arguments and receiving affidavits.”

READ: Makati court denies DOJ plea for Trillanes arrest

“We are of the view that, had only one approach been taken, one that allowed the reception of evidence in full measure, common answers to common questions of facts would have been elicited,” it added.

“A revoked amnesty can render void an order or judgment that dismissed a criminal action because of the amnesty, but the process entails a proper judicial inquiry which either party of the controversy, be it government or grantee, may initiate via the proper legal tools and remedies with the proper court clothed with jurisdiction,” the CA held.

Constitutionality of Proclamation 572

The same ruling however touched on constitutional issues Trillanes raised against Duterte’s Proclamation 572, such as whether the delcration was a bill of attainder and ex-post facto law, which are prohibited by the Constitution. 

A bill of attainder is a legislative act that inflicts punishment without a trial, while ex post facto law is that would penalize a crime that was committed when the act was not deemed illegal yet. 

But the CA said the proclamation is not a bill of attainder nor an ex post facto law, as the declaration is an executive act.

It added that the revocation of the conditional amnesty “does not impute guilty upon the accused and does not seek to inflict punishment without judicial trial.” The Proclamation, which revoked the conditional amnesty, merely allows the continuation of proceedings against the former grantee, the court also said.

Procalamation 572 “does not and will not place the petitioner in double jeopardy” as Trillanes argued, the court said.

The double jeopardy rule essentially states that when a case against a person is terminated, the same accused cannot again be charged with the same or identical offense.

The CA said that in Trillanes’ case, the rebellion case was dismissed due to his ex-parte motion to dismiss. “Considering that the first jeopardy did not attach when Criminal Case No. 07-1326 or the rebellion case was previously dismissed, any consequent action against the petitioner for the same crime of rebellion will not expose him to double jeopardy,” the ruling read.

Duterte’s proclamation did not violate Trillanes’ right to due process nor does it violate the equal protection clause, the CA said.

The court pointed out that the proclamation as it did not assume authority to direct a warrantless arrest. 

Whether these issues and the ruling would be taken up for an appeal will be up for the Office of the Solicitor General, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters.

It was Solicitor General Jose Calida who initiated the review of the amnesty granted to Trillanes.

While Guevarra said he has not yet read the decision, he said he knows “that the issues are exclusively jurisdictional in character.”

“I will leave it to the [OSG], as counsel for the government, to determine the appropriate legal remedy, which may include a motion for reconsideration with the court of appeals or a petition for review with the Supreme Court,” he added.

vuukle comment




As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 31, 2021 - 5:30pm

 A Pasay City prosecutor’s office recommends the filing of an inciting to sedition case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV stemming from a privilege speech in the Senate calling on military men to shoot President Rodrigo Duterte for his unexplained wealth. 

May 31, 2021 - 5:30pm

A Makati court finds former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV guilty of libel over his April 2015 statements against former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr.

The court ruling says Trillanes' statements aired in various radio and television programs all over the country were "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with malice and with the intention of attacking the honor, integrity, character and reputation" of Binay.

The court sentences Trillanes to pay a fine of P100,000 and to pay Binay P500,000 in moral damages and costs of suit.

March 2, 2021 - 12:48pm

Ex-Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV wins in Court of Appeals. CA reverses Makati RTC Branch’s order that revived the rebellion case against him, over supposed amnesty revocation.

"The assailed orders of 25 September 2018 and 18 December 2018, having been issues by the respondent court that no longer had jurisdiction on a dismissed criminal action and that acted with grave abuse of discretion, are set aside and vacated," the CA says. —  Kristine Joy Patag

October 22, 2019 - 1:23pm

Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV denies allegations that he was involved in the alleged kidnapping of a certain Guillermina Lalic Barrido, also known as Guillerma Arcillas, in 2016.

The Philippine National Police in August accused Trillanes of kidnapping with illegal detention Barrido’s signed affidavit where she claimed that, in December 2016, she was brought to a room in the "Convent of Cannussian Sisters" and was not allowed to leave.

She said that Trillanes had repeatedly called her, telling her she cannot leave unless she signs an affidavit against President Rodrigo Duterte.

But Trillanes, in a counter-affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice, says "until I accidentally saw her at the DOJ Compound sometime on September 5, 2019, I have never met or even seen Ms. Barrido in person, and I have never talked to or spoken with her, whether  by  phone or in person."

He also points out that in photographs that Barrido provided as supposed proof of the kidnapping, "in  almost  all  the  said  pictures, Ms. Barrido  and [her] companions were all smiling and seemingly enjoying themselves." 

"Obviously, these are not the normal, usual or expected imagesand demeanor of a person who  is  supposedly  being 'detained' against her  will  or  is  being 'kidnapped', unless Ms. Barrido can genuinely claim that she was happy to be detained."

May 7, 2019 - 6:12pm

The Pasay court will proceed to trial on an inciting to sedition case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV for allegedly saying that soldiers should shoot President Rodrigo Duterte using an M-60 machine gun for his alleged hidden wealth.

In a speech in October 2017, Trillanes said: "Kung makikita ito ng mga sundalo, M60 machine gun ang gagamitin sa 'yo. Marami-rami itong maubos magazine kung P40 million hinahanap mo, Mr. Duterte."

(If soliders see this, they might use an M60 machine gun against you. This is a lot of magazine if you are looking for P40 million, Mr. Duterte.)

The speech was in reference to a Duterte speech that same month where he denied having undeclared wealth. 

“It could not be more than P40 million. It is a lifetime saving. Seventy-two [na] ako. I started to work when I was 27. Naging prosecutor ako. Pati kasali ang mga minana kong lupa. You can shoot me. You can overthrow me if you want kapag sumbobra ako doon,” Duterte said then.

"I promise you now in front of the soldiers and everybody: I will produce that account at sinasabi ko sa inyo, you can shoot me if it exceeds 40 million (pesos). Lifetime na iyan na savings ko. Hindi sosobra iyan, sigurado."

February 26, 2019 - 7:04pm

A local prosecutor finds probable cause to indict Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on inciting to sedition raps filed by Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras and lawyer Manuelito Luna.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with