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Metro

Makati court defers ruling on Oakwood mutiny anew

- Delon Porcalla, Jose Aravilla -

MANILA, Philippines –  The Makati regional trial court (RTC) deferred yesterday for the second time the promulgation of a coup d’ etat case against detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and junior military officers belonging to the Magdalo group for their participation in the July 27, 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

Makati RTC Branch 148 Judge Oscar Pimentel granted a motion filed by Trillanes and the Magdalo soldiers to defer the promulgation yesterday, citing President Aquino’s Proclamation 75 granting amnesty to active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who participated in the mutiny, the February 2006 Marine barracks standoff and the 2007 Manila Peninsula Hotel siege and the concurrence of both houses of Congress to Aquino’s amnesty proclamation.

Pimentel gave all the accused 10 days within which to file a manifestation before the court that they will avail of the amnesty.

“In deference to the amnesty proclamation of the President as concurred in by majority of members of Congress and as a respect to the decision of the political branch of government, this court agreed to defer the promulgation,” Pimentel said, adding that his 260-page decision has been ready for two months.

The prosecution panel, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon did not object the court’s decision.

Trillanes’ lawyer, Reynaldo Robles, said Aquino’s amnesty proclamation rendered the promulgation of the case moot and academic.

“If all the accused avail of the amnesty, it is illogical to proceed with the promulgation because amnesty erases the offense,” Robles said.

Trillanes said he will avail of the amnesty. He also has a pending motion asking the Makati RTC to allow him to spend Christmas with his family.

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Director Eduardo Batac told The STAR that “the decision whether to allow him to spend the holidays with his family is still under the court’s jurisdiction.”

The DND has formed an amnesty committee, headed by Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta, to process the amnesty applications of rebel soldiers.

Reynaldo Robles, Trillanes’ chief of staff, said the senator’s two children are excited over the prospect of having their father home for Christmas.

“The senator has spent seven Christmases in jail... If he would be allowed to spend Christmas with his family after seven years, that would be a good Christmas gift,” Robles said.

No apology, no admission needed

Meanwhile, Malacañang declared yesterday that Trillanes and other rebel soldiers who attempted to overthrow the Arroyo administration need not admit their guilt to be granted amnesty.

“If those conditions are not found in the proclamation and in the implementing rules and regulations, then there will be none,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a briefing.

A check with the two-page Proclamation 75 issued by Aquino, and which both the Senate and the House of Representatives adopted, showed no mention of admission of guilt or the need for an apology.

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, however, said while granting amnesty is “a constructive action,” the current administration should “exclude recidivists and offenders who remain unrepentant.”

She said she granted amnesty to Capt. Gerardo Gambala, Milo Maestrocampo and other soldiers involved in the Oakwood mutiny after they pleaded guilty, were convicted and publicly apologized for their offense. – With Alexis Romero

ABIGAIL VALTE

AMNESTY

ANTONIO TRILLANES

AQUINO

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE

DIRECTOR EDUARDO BATAC

MAKATI

REYNALDO ROBLES

TRILLANES

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