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Sans new arrest order, Trillanes can ‘chill a bit’

Antonio Trillanes IV

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. AP

“I will now go home. I will now leave the Senate premises,” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV declared jubilantly on Friday afternoon, as he welcomed Judge Andres Soriano’s decision to defer ruling on the government’s bid to revive the coup d’etat case against him.

“I believe we are victorious at least for this day; the Filipinos won, our country won,” a visibly elated Trillanes told the media at the Senate where he had been holed up for the past 25 days.

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The senator lauded Soriano of Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 for upholding due process, and described the court’s order as “light amid the darkness that has enveloped our country.”

“You just have to admire people of courage and integrity and today [this] was personified by him,” said Trillanes, adding that the courts were under pressure to rule against him.

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Soriano deferred granting the motion by state prosecutors who asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order against the rebel-turned-senator in the coup d’etat case arising from his involvement in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

The senator has been staying in his Senate office since Sept. 4 after President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 572, which revoked the 2011 amnesty granted him by the Aquino administration.

Trillanes said he would be coming home on Saturday morning, but would first spend Friday night savoring his “temporary victory” with friends and family.

“I’ll chill for a bit,” he said.

 

Alameda order

The respite came just days after Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati City RTC Branch 150 ordered Trillanes’ arrest for the revived case of rebellion against him, while also allowing the senator to post P200,000 bail.

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Alameda reopened the rebellion case filed against the senator over the November 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

Trillanes said Soriano’s actions were proof that democracy was somehow still alive in the country, and that Filipinos must be vigilant in guarding it.

While Soriano’s order does not mean total victory since a hearing will still be conducted on Oct. 5 to assess evidence from both the government’s and Trillanes’ camp, the senator said it was “a good start … [considering] that President [Duterte wanted] an immediate issuance of an [arrest] warrant.”

According to Soriano’s ruling, the hearing will not “necessarily [reopen the senator’s coup] case,” which was dismissed on Sept. 21, 2011, by then acting Judge Ma. Rita Sarabia, following the amnesty granted the mutineers by then President Benigno Aquino III.

Asked if he was worried about being arrested based on earlier orders, Trillanes said his camp had “enough to convince the military not to do anything beyond their mandate.”

They have strong evidence to prove that he had indeed applied for amnesty under the Aquino administration and admitted his guilt despite the missing original copy of his amnesty application, the senator said.

Subpoena for Calida

Trillanes said they were thinking of requesting a subpoena for Solicitor General Jose Calida, who first reviewed the amnesty issued by Aquino to the Magdalo group, for him “to be placed under oath and reveal what he has done in relation to this bogus proclamation of Mr. Duterte.”

But he “was not excited to see [Calida’s] face ever,” the senator said.

Trillanes said he would ask the Senate blue ribbon committee to start on Monday its investigation of the multimillion government contracts given the security agencies owned by Calida’s family.

He will ask the committee to also launch an inquiry into the multimillion government contracts awarded to the relatives of Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, he added.

“These people have to explain themselves. So it’s time to put them on the defensive,” Trillanes said.

The senator’s lawyer, Reynaldo Robles, said the court would now determine the veracity of the claim that Trillanes did not file an amnesty application nor did he admit his guilt.

They do not expect the court to issue an arrest warrant against his client until Oct. 5, Robles added.

If ordered arrested, the senator will again be detained at the custodial center of the Philippine National Police headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Judge Oscar Pimentel, who originally handled the coup d’etat case against Trillanes, had twice denied his motion for bail.

Prior to Soriano’s ruling, rumors swirled on social media that the Office of the Solicitor General had already drafted the arrest order and was just waiting for the judge’s signature.

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