Calida on voiding of Trillanes amnesty: Duterte only wants laws executed
President Rodrigo Duterte only wants to make sure that all laws are faithfully executed when he revoked the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Solicitor General Jose Calida told the Supreme Court on Monday as he denied that the administration is singling out the senator.
Duterte issued Proclamation 572 that nullified the amnesty given to Trillanes by then President Benigno Aquino III through Proclamation No. 75.
The proclamation pointed out that the amnesty is void because of Trillanes’ non-compliance with the basic requirements of submitting an application form and admitting his guilt.
Following the revocation of the amnesty, the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Makati Regional Trial Court Branches 148 and 150 to order the senator’s arrest and issue a hold departure order.
The senator, on the other hand, went to the Supreme Court and sought to have Proclamation 752 nullified for violating his constitutional rights and for being issued with grave abuse of discretion.
The senator’s camp also accused the Duterte administration of singling him out as there are many others who benefitted from the amnesty given by Aquino.
But Calida, in his 80-page comment on Trillanes’ petition, said the President simply wants to make sure that all laws are “faithfully executed.”
“The President has the power to take ‘necessary and proper steps’ to carry into execution the law. The mandate is self-executory by virtue of its being inherently executive in nature and is intimately related to the other executive functions,” Calida said.
He added that the President took his oath to “faithfully execute our laws” which is what he actually did in revoking the amnesty given to Trillanes for non-compliance with the basic requirements under the law.
The lead government counsel added that Trillanes was not singled-out and his constitutional right was not violated.
“The petitioner [Trillanes] is undeniably the acknowledged spokesman of the Magdalo group [and] is the only grantee of amnesty who made a public pronouncement denying that he committed the crimes of coup d’ etat and rebellion,” Calida said, explaining that the very reason why Proclamation 572 was issued was because of the non-submission of application form by Trillanes and not admitting his guilt.
“These reasons cannot be applied to other grantees who complied with Proclamation 75,” he said, adding that “it was not the amnesty proclamation itself that was revoked, but the coverage of the petitioner [Trillanes.]
Still, Calida said Proclamation No. 75 violated Section 19, Article VII of the Constitution, which provides that only the President may grant amnesty, since it was signed only by former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and not by former President Benigno Aquino III as required by law.
“The power to grant clemency is a non-delegable power and solely the President’s prerogative, which must be exercised by the President personally and exclusively,” he explained.
“Neither the DND Secretary nor a special committee could grant or approve amnesty,” Calida stressed.
The solicitor general also raised several procedural grounds in seeking dismissal of the opposition senator’s petition.
He specifically argued that Trillanes’ petition violated the hierarchy of courts, raised questions of facts that cannot be resolved by the SC and has defective notarial and forum shopping certificates.
The Solicitor General added that Trillanes committed forum shopping since he also sought similar reliefs both from the SC and the Makati RTC where the DOJ has pending motions seeking his arrest.
“To stress, the relief asked by the petitioner in this petition as well as in the respective comments he filed before the trial courts are essentially founded on the validity of Proclamation No. 572. The eventual resolution of the RTCs on the motions for issuance of alias warrant and hold departure order would have the effect of res judicator on the present petition and vice versa,” he explained.
Calida filed the comment for the respondents in the case— Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Justice Sceretary Mendaro Guevarra, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. and PNP chief Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde. /ee