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Metro

Court allows Trillanes, Lim to post bail

- Delon Porcalla, Jose Aravilla -

MANILA, Philippines - The Makati regional trial court allowed yesterday Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and 16 other members of the Magdalo group to post bail for the rebellion charges filed by government prosecutors in connection with the take over of the Manila Peninsula in Makati in Nov. 29, 2007.

In a 16-page order, Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda said the prosecution panel failed to prove that there is strong evidence for rebellion against Trillanes, Lim and their 16 co-accused.

But Trillanes and Lim will still remain in detention on mutiny charges in connection with the July 2003 Oakwood incident. 

Alameda set to P200,000 the bail bond each for Trillanes, Lim and their 16 co-accused. “The court finds that the prosecution failed to demonstrate that the evidence of guilt of the accused for the crime of rebellion is strong to foreclose their right to bail.

“Accordingly, the court hereby grants the motion and allows the accused to post bail in the amount of P200,000 each for their provisional liberty,” Alameda said. Alameda also said that the P200,000 bail will be limited for the rebellion case that is being tried by his sala against Trillanes, Lim and their co-accused.

Qualifying circumstance

“The grant of bail to the accused is limited to this case only and does not cover other cases filed against the accused which are pending in the other branch of this court. It is not also applicable to military proceedings where the right to bail has traditionally not been recognized and is not available,” Alameda said.

In granting the motion for bail for Trillanes, Lim and their 16 co-accused, Alameda said the prosecution failed to prove in court that the “accused were involved in public uprising or an armed public uprising by substantial number of rebels; the accused took up arms against the government; there was a vast movement of men and a complex net of intrigues and plots; there was a civil war on a bigger or lesser scale; and the chief executive was deprived wholly or partially of her powers and prerogatives.”

“Apart from the fact that the prosecution was not able to establish convincingly all the elements of the offense of rebellion, the third amended information charging the accused with the crime of rebellion failed to allege specifically the qualifying circumstance that the accused promoted, maintained or headed the rebellion,” Alameda said. “It should be stressed that if the information does not contain an allegation that any one of the accused promoted, maintained or headed the alleged rebellion, the penalty that may be imposed is only reclusion temporal, hence, bailable. It is basic that an accused can only be denied his right to bail when he is charged with an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua where the evidence of guilt is strong,” Alameda added.

Alameda also cited that the prosecution failed to present “material witness” to testify that “any of the accused was armed with a gun aside from the Military armed escorts and fired the same when they walked out from the court of Judge Oscar Pimentel; any of the accused was armed and fired the same when they marched along the streets of Makati heading towards the Manila Peninsula Hotel; any of the accused was armed and fired the same when they entered the Manila Peninsula Hotel and when the PNP Special Action Force and the Philippine Marines took action to force them out from the second floor of the hotel where they holed themselves up.”

“Although, an actual clash of arms with the forces of the government is not necessary to make one liable of the crime of rebellion, nevertheless, it is necessary for the prosecution to at least prove that the accused have risen publicly and took up arms against the government. Rising publicly and taking arms against the government is the normative element of the offense which the prosecution failed to prove,” Alameda said.

“None of the circumstances enumerated above rises to the level of armed uprising. The evidence presented by the prosecution instead showed that the police and the military entered the Peninsula Hotel armed with a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Oscar Pimentel to effect the arrest of the accused after 14 of them were found guilty of direct contempt,” Alameda added.

Alameda said that “no direct, material and competent evidence was adduced to prove the specific acts committed by the accused constituting the crime of rebellion or any of the elements thereof.”

Grant of liberty

Additionally, detained Brig. Gen. Danilo “Danny Lim thanked Alameda of Branch 150 of the Makati City court for granting him, Trillanes IV and 16 others temporary liberty while their case of rebellion is still being heard in court. In a statement, he praised the judge’s objectivity and impartiality in hearing their case. He said this is a step in the right direction in proving their innocence regarding the rebellion charges accusation and the triumph of hope within the justice system.

Lim said that after four years of incarceration, freedom is now finally within reach. “The door that has closed us from the outside world and unjustly incarcerated us in our pursuit of truth and meaningful change is slowly opening; freedom is now just around the corner,” Lim said.

Not totally freed

For his part, detained Col. Ariel Querubin appealed yesterday to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to also grant his request to leave his detention to be able to campaign for his senatorial bid under the Nacionalista Party.

Querubin, who is facing court martial, said the mutiny case has dragged on for almost four years with some of his co-conspirators already released. “With these development, our lawyers are one in saying that the case has been weakened. My lawyer filed a motion to allow me to campaign out of my detention cell in order to have fair competition in my bid for the Senate. What I am asking for is temporary freedom,” said Querubin.

The AFP said Lim, Trillanes and the others involved in the Manila Pen siege will not automatically be freed despite the court’s decision to grant them bail since they are still facing court martial charges.With Alexis Romero, Christina Mendez, Aurea Calica

ACCUSED

ALAMEDA

ARMED

BAIL

COURT

LIM

MAKATI

REBELLION

TRILLANES

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