The Department of Justice will file a motion for partial reconsideration of the ruling of Makati City Judge Andres Soriano, who found that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was able to prove he filed his amnesty application and had admitted his guilt in the coup d’etat case filed against him.
“The DOJ will file, not later than Friday, a motion for partial reconsideration of the order of RTC Makati City Branch 148, only insofar as it found that Senator Trillanes had sufficiently shown that he filed his certificate of amnesty and that therefore it follows that he also admitted his guilt for the offense of coup d’etat,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
Earlier, Guevarra said it is the DOJ, and not the Office of the Solicitor General, that will decide on what legal steps to undertake following the denying by the Makati City regional trial court of its motion for the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
“It is the DOJ who will decide what legal step to take,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra made the statement after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that Solicitor General Jose Calida will appeal the trial court ruling directly before the Court of Appeals instead of filing a motion for reconsideration before the Makati City judge, Andres Soriano.
The DOJ chief said the next legal move will be known before the end of the day.
DOJ prosecutors represented the state before two Makati City courts where two judges have issued opposite rulings on whether or not Trillanes should be rearrested for coup d’état and rebellion charges.
Guevarra on Tuesday underscored the importance of proceeding with the amnesty cases against Senator
Antonio Trillanes IV, saying it serves as a deterrent for like-minded military adventurism in the future.
“With all due respect, pursuing one to answer for the crime of rebellion or coup d’état is not a useless exercise, as it sends a warning to all similarly minded persons who have devious plans of endangering the security of the republic,” Guevarra said.
The remarks were made in response to some lawmakers’ call for the executive to back down on the cases against Trillanes, a constant critic.
Soriano turned down the government’s plea for an arrest warrant and a hold departure order against the lawmaker citing that the judgment clearing the lawmaker had long been final and executory.
“The dismissal [of the case] has become final and executory,” Soriano said, citing the legal doctrine of “immutability of a final and executory judgment.”
Senate Minority leader Franklin M. Drilon, meanwhile, said the Supreme Court can no longer disturb the factual findings by Soriano on Trillanes’ case, citing the jurisprudence that the “Supreme Court is not a trier of facts.”
“Well-settled is the rule that the Supreme Court is not a trier of fact. The Supreme Court cannot assume the role of trier of facts which, by law and jurisprudence, belongs to the lower courts,” Drilon said.
The case of Trillanes is undeniably a question of fact, Drilon said.
“Factual findings of the lower courts are entitled to great weight and respect on appeal, and in fact accorded finality when supported by substantial evidence on the record,” Drilon said.
In the case of Trillanes, he said, the lower court has affirmed the fact that Trillanes validly complied with the requirements for his amnesty application.
“I do not see how this finding can be disturbed by the Supreme Court especially considering that the original decision of Makati RTC Branch 148 attained finality seven years ago,” Drilon said.
Senator Leila de Lima said she welcomed with guarded optimism Soriano’s decision.
Nowadays, she said it is difficult for the judiciary to defy the wishes of the government, especially if pressure is coming directly from Duterte’s personal interest to have Trillanes arrested and silenced. “This act of independence from pressure exerted by Malacañang is thus a breath of fresh air coming from the judiciary,” she said.
“I consider this development as a positive act of independence of the judiciary. We must recognize small victories against Duterte’s tyranny, and this is definitely one of them,” De Lima added.