By Jeffrey Damicog
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has expressed concern over the decision President Duterte to declare as void the amnesty given to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during the Aquino administration.
“The IBP expresses its alarm over the overt audacity to publicly arrest and incarcerate an incumbent member of the Senate for offenses that had been abolished by the Chief Executive and Legislature resulting in dismissal of criminal proceedings by our courts,” said IBP National President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo in a statement issued Monday.
Duterte had issued Proclamation No. 572 which declared as “void ab initio (void from the beginning” the amnesty given to Trillanes for having failed to comply with the requirements set by the government.
The amnesty was given back in 2010 by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III under Proclamation No. 75 which absolved Trillanes of any liability over his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
Fajardo expressed deep concern that “records of the Executive Branch can be used to overturn final dismissals of criminal charges by our courts.”
“Arresting and incarcerating Senator Trillanes for offenses dismissed by amnesty runs roughshod over the constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy that no person shall be held to answer twice for the same criminal offense,” he said.
The IBP president pointed out that “amnesty once granted cannot be simply dissolved by the invocation of the words ‘void ab initio’.”
“The IBP reiterates that amnesty is an exercise of sovereign power that automatically confers upon the grantee vested rights appurtenant to the obliteration of the ‘offense with which he is charged. A person released by amnesty stands before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense’,” he said.
Fajardo reminded that because of the amnesty Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branches 148 and 150 have already dismissed the cases against Trillanes. Branch 148 handled the coup d’etat case concerning the Oakwood mutiny, while, Branch 150 had the rebellion case over the Manila Peninsula siege.
He already called as forum shopping the acts of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in asking both RTC branches to issue arrest warrants against Trillanes.