DOJ: Dismissal of Trillanes coup d’etat case void

Published October 26, 2018, 6:53 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the Makati City court’s 2011 dismissal of the coup d’etat case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is void.

The DOJ pointed this out in its motion for partial reconsideration it submitted on Thursday before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 which is handling the coup d’etat case concerning the lawmaker’s involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

The motion for partial reconsideration sought to reverse the order issued on Monday by Judge Andres Soriano of Makati RTC Branch 148 who denied the DOJ’s motion seeking the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold departure order (HDO) against the senator.

“Wherefore, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that the Order of this Honorable Court dated October 22, 2018 be partially reconsidered, and the Omnibus Motion for Issuance of Hold Departure Order and Warrant of Arrest be Granted against Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV,” read the motion for partial reconsideration.

The motion for partial reconsideration is signed by Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon and Assistant State Prosecutors Mary Jane Sytat, Josie Christina Dugay and Evee Eunice De Keyser.

“Social and public interest demand the punishment of the offender, hence, criminal actions for public offenses cannot be waived or condoned, much less barred by the rules of estoppels,” the DOJ stated.

“Indeed, for justice to prevail, the scales must balance; justice is not to be dispensed for the accused alone. Interests of society and the offended parties which have been wronged must be equally considered,” it pointed out.

In his order, Soriano said “this case has long been dismissed as per the Court’s Order dated September 21, 2011, by virtue of Proclamation No. 75 and the accused availment thereof.”

“The dismissal, it appears, has become final and executory,” read Soriano’s order.

Proclamation No. 75 was issued back in 2011 by then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino who granted amnesty to Trillanes over the senator’s participation in the Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

On the other hand, Soriano recognized President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 which declared as “void ab initio” or void from the start the amnesty of Trillanes for having failed to comply with the requirements including the filing of the application and the admission of guilt.

Regardless, Soriano said “the Court finds no reason to disturb the doctrine of immutability of a final and executory judgment.”

However, the DOJ disagreed with the position of the magistrate.

“Even so, the present case is an exception to the rule on immutability of final and executory judgments,” the DOJ said.

“Suffice it to say that the issuance of Proclamation No. 572 was brought about by the discovery of the noncompliance by accused Trillanes of the minimum requirements for the valid grant of amnesty,” it explained.

“With the revocation of the amnesty granted to accused Trillanes, the Order dismissing the case against Trillanes on September 21, 2011 therefore becomes void, and can never be final and executory,” it stressed.

The DOJ said the court also wrongfully concluded that Trillanes did comply with the requirements for his amnesty.

It pointed out “the Honorable Court practically disregarded the credible evidence presented by the People, both testimonial and documentary, and took as gospel truth the testimonies of defense witnesses Lt. Col. Josefa C. Berbigal, former DND (Department of National Defense) Undersecretary Honorio S. Azcueta, Dominador E. Rull, Jr., and Emmanuel C. Tirador, whose credibility is doubtful, testimonies are biased and, worse, not supported by evidence.”

The DOJ said the application documents of Trillanes should be found in offices like the J1 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the DND Records Division and Office of the Undersecretary for Defense Affairs and even Makati RTC Branch 148.

“The admission of witnesses from these offices are more credible as they were based on the records of their offices and not on some selective recollection of seemingly confused and biased witnesses,” said the DOJ which noted Branch 148 has no copy of Trillanes’s application documents.

The DOJ also presented other witnesses from the DND as well as the court’s lawyer Maria Rhodora Malabag-Peralta and GMA News online reporter Mark Maruenas to show that Trillanes failed to admit guilt.

“The credible evidence presented by the prosecution sufficiently proved that accused Trillanes did not admit guilt to the crime of coup d’etat and did not recant previous inconsistent statement of guilt,” the DOJ said.