DOJ fails anew to secure arrest order vs Trillanes
Another day, another court, another stalled bid to detain Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday again failed to secure an arrest warrant and a hold departure order (HDO) against Trillanes, this time from Judge Elmo Alameda of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150.
Alameda instead gave the opposing camps five days to reply to each other’s motions and to submit further evidence.
On Thursday, Judge Andres Soriano of the Makati RTC Branch 148 also refused to grant the DOJ’s motion for an arrest warrant and an HDO against the senator, one of the fiercest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Trillanes welcomed the development, saying he was “encouraged that the lower courts are asserting their independence and doing the right thing.”
The Supreme Court early this week threw back to the lower courts Trillanes’ motion for a temporary restraining order on the proclamation issued by the President that revoked his 2011 amnesty and ordered his arrest.
State prosecutors filed their motion for an arrest warrant in Makati RTC Branches 148 and 150, which originally handled the coup and rebellion charges against Trillanes and the Magdalo group. The two courts dismissed the cases in September 2011 after Trillanes was granted amnesty by then President Benigno Aquino III.
At Friday’s hearing, Alameda admonished Trillanes’ lawyer, Reynaldo Robles, for being unable to produce the original copy of the senator’s application for amnesty under Aquino’s Proclamation 75.
Robles admitted that Trillanes had yet to find a copy of the application form which, the lawyer insisted, the senator had submitted.
Instead, Robles presented Trillanes’ certificate of amnesty signed by then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and a compact disc containing a news video clip of the senator submitting his application form to the defense department ad hoc committee.
The judge stressed the importance of the missing form—both the original and his receiving copy—which was the basis of President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 declaring Trillanes’ amnesty as being void from the beginning.
Alameda told Robles to get an affidavit from Col. Josefa Berbigal, the officer of the ad hoc committee before whom Trillanes swore his oath when he applied for amnesty.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Robles insisted that it was the prosecution’s “obligation” to prove that Trillanes did not apply for amnesty.
Instead, he said, “what they submitted was a certification that they could not find it (the application form), but they never proved that (he) did not apply for amnesty.”
Trillanes’ lawyer also blamed the Department of National Defense (DND) for losing the original application form, saying the concerned DND officials may be charged with infidelity in the custody of public documents.
Robles also assailed Solicitor General Jose Calida, whom Defense Secretary Lorenzana said had called him to ask about the amnesty documents of “Trillanes and his men.”
“It seems that (Trillanes’) amnesty application was intentionally lost,” Robles said.
The lawyer said Trillanes would continue to stay at the Senate instead of risking arrest despite President Duterte’s assurances. “If he is arrested, then the cases will be moot and academic,” Robles added. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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