After being holed up in the Senate for almost three weeks, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV took less than three hours to surrender to the police, have his mugshots and fingerprints taken at the Makati Central Police station, post P200,000 bail and return to the Senate Tuesday.
After a Makati court issued a warrant for his arrest, Trillanes left the Senate past 3 pm with a police team led by Metro Manila police chief Guillermo Eleazar.
He returned to the Senate past 5 pm after posting bail before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150, which is hearing a case against him for his role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege.
Earlier, Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati RTC Branch 150 issued an arrest warrant 21 days after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 572, nullifying the amnesty granted to Trillanes by President Benigno Aquino III.
The court set a P200,000 bail for his temporary liberty.
State prosecutors earlier asked Alameda to order Trillanes’ arrest and prevent him from leaving the country, saying the nullification of his amnesty meant that the case against the senator related to the 2007 Manila Peninsula Hotel siege must be pursued.
The military man-turned politician is also facing a separate coup d’etat case at the Makati RTC Branch 148 for leading the 2003 mutiny at the Oakwood Premier hotel, also in Makati City.
Last month, President Duterte voided the amnesty granted by former President Benigno Aquino III to Trillanes for his alleged failure to file an application form and admit guilt for his crime.
Prosecutors said the rebellion charges filed against Trillanes have yet to be terminated by the court despite the issuance of Proclamation No. 75 issued by Aquino, which granted him amnesty.
Trillanes, a former Navy lieutenant, was among those who led mutiny in Oakwood Premiere Hotel in Makati City on July 27, 2003 and the Manila Peninsula siege on November 29, 2007. Both were aimed at ousting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Almeda on Tuesday also granted the Justice Department motion for the issuance of a hold-departure order against Trillanes.
The Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on Tuesday revived the rebellion case against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as it granted the Department of Justice’s motion for the issuance of warrant of arrest and a hold departure order against him.
Alameda said that after the hearing it conducted on Sept. 14, the prosecution managed to prove that Trillanes actually did not apply for amnesty.
The DoJ prosecutors led by Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon presented a certification dated Aug. 30, 2018 issued and signed by one Lt. Gen. Thea Joan Andrade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines--Discipline, Law and Order Division to prove that the senator failed to apply for an amnesty.
“The court’s evaluation of the…certification is that it confirms the claim of the prosecution that Senator Trillanes did not apply for amnesty,” the court said.
Alameda said the burden of proving compliance with the minimum requirements to be entitled to amnesty under Proclamation No. 75 issued by the previous administration lies with Trillanes.
“However, Senator Trillanes through his counsel failed to convince this Court that he indeed complied with the minimum requirement to personally fill up and file the official amnesty application form as required in Section 5,6, and 11 of DND [Department of National Defense] Amnesty Committee Circular Dated December 21, 2010,” Alameda said.
The court also noted that Trillanes failed to present the original hard copy, a duplicate copy, or even a photocopy to substantiate his claim that he personally accomplished and filed his amnesty application form.
The court also gave weight to the online news report published on January 5, 2011, which was presented by the prosecution to prove that Trillanes failed to expressly admit his guilt for the crimes committed during the Oakwood mutiny and manila Peninsula incident.
Now that the amnesty has been voided, the court said, it would regain jurisdiction over his case, despite its dismissal on Sept. 7, 2011.
That dismissal, Almeda said, can also be considered void and has on legal and binding effect, given the issuance of Proclamation No. 572.
“With the revocation of the amnesty granted to Senator Trillanes the resulting consequence is that the order issued on Sept. 7, 2011 dismissing the case of rebellion becomes void ab initio. Proclamation No. 572 was precisely issued to rectify the erroneous grant of amnesty to accused to Trillanes due to his failure to comply with the basis minimum requirements of filing his application and the admission stated in the said application of his guilt of the acts/crimes covered by the amnesty,” the judge said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra welcomed the order of the court, saying the DoJ was confident from the very start that its bid to bring Trillanes back to jail would be granted.
Makati RTC Branch 148 Presiding Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano has yet to issue an order with regard to the coup d’etat case against Trillanes.
Prior to the grant of amnesty, Trillanes and several members of the so-called Magdalo soldiers were charged with a case for coup d’etat before Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 for the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and a case for rebellion before Makati RTC Branch 150 for the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
After posting bail, Trillanes returned to his Senate office, where he has been holed up since Sept. 4.
In an interview, Trillanes told reporters that it’s really to fight a demon, referring to the President.
He said it was obvious that the decision of the lower court was swayed and influenced by the President’s hell-bent wish to send him to jail.
He bewailed what he called the railroading of the justice system just to accommodate the whims of the President. His lawyers would exhaust all possible legal remedies, believing that the truth would prevail, he added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the government must ensure first the safety of Trillanes.
“Since the charge, by order of the court, is bailable, his security must be ensured by the state,” he said.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said he hopes Trillanes will be afforded justice by the court.
Senator Grace Poe said she was confident that Trillanes would be able to defend himself.
She said she was baffled when Trillanes’ amnesty was questioned, despite its approval by both chambers of Congress.
“So how can we have trust [in the grant of amnesty]?” she said.
Opposifion Senator Risa Hontiveros branded Trillanes’ arrest as “a black eye for democracy and the rule of law.”
She considered the issuance of the warrant a part of the government’s attempt to intimidate political critics and said it foreshadowed a crackdown on the opposition.
“It reeks of panic and desperation over the growing opposition to the President’s authoritarian rule. Beyond the President’s intolerance of opposition politics, it exposes the depths of his paranoia and fear of dissent,” she said.
“It also effectively shows President Duterte’s incompetence and lack of strong leadership,” she added.
Instead of being tough on inflation and the rice crisis, instead of mustering the needed political will to address the country’s economic slowdown, she said, Duterte has been wasting his time and energy, as well as precious government resources, on trying to obliterate the democratic opposition.
“He intimidates and terrorizes people, particularly his critics, to compensate for his incapacity to govern,” she said.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said the real enemy of the administration government was poverty and high prices, ot the opposition.
In a news briefing in the Senate, Trillanes said “democracy lost” when the Makati court sustained Duterte’s cancellation of his amnesty in connection with the rebellion case that was dismissed seven years ago due to the amnesty.
“Democracy was defeated here. Like what I said last week, our petitions in court are a test case of the strength of our judicial system,” Trillanes said.
“Officially, we no longer have democracy... I did not commit any crime, I was given amnesty seven years ago,” said Duterte.
“This is harassment from Mr. Duterte to his critics in politics, to those telling the truth and to those whom he cannot squarely face,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes is the second opposition senator to be arrested under the Duterte presidency. Senator Leila de Lima is under detention on drug charges that she has denied.
Also on Tuesday, the Magdalo party-list group denounced the issuance of an arrest warrant against Trillanes.
“The issuance of warrant to arrest Senator Trillanes based on Proclamation No. 572 is an assault to the whole Philippine justice system. We even come to a point where courts are being used as tool by the Duterte administration to clamp down the opposition,” Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a staunch Duterte critic in the House of Representatives, said.
“Obviously, there is someone who backed down from the pressures of the Duterte administration,” he added.
The Palace welcomed the Makati court’s decision.
“The court has spoken. As the President has said, we will respect the decision of the judiciary,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
“Whatever Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has to say can be addressed to the court,” he added.
The Palace official also asked Trillanes, one of Duterte’s top critics, to “stop the drama press conference and allow the legal process to take its course.” With Maricel V. Cruz and Nat Mariano
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