Gov’t to pursue legal remedies on Trillanes’ coup d’etat case — DOJ

Published June 10, 2021, 9:21 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra (2)

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said the government will pursue available legal remedies after the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed a trial court’s ruling that denied the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold departure order against former Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV on his coup d’etat case in the so-called Oakwood Mutiny in 2003.

Since the case involving rebellion is important to the government, Guevarra said “the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) will certainly not leave the matter hanging at the level of the Court of Appeals.”

“I need not even tell the SolGen (Solicitor General Jose C. Calida) about that,” he said.

Under the rules, decisions of the CA are appealable to the Supreme Court (SC) on questions of law.

The CA promulgated a decision last May 31 which dismissed the petition for certiorari of the government, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), that challenged the 2018 ruling of Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano.

Soriano was handling the coup d’etat case of Trillanes who was granted amnesty through Proclamation No. 75 that was issued in 2010 by then President Benigno Aquino III.

While he upheld the validity of President Duterte’s Proclamation 572 which revoked the amnesty given to Trillanes, Soriano pointed out that the coup d’etat case had already been dismissed in 2011 because of the amnesty and, based on established doctrine, a final and executory judgment cannot be reversed.

“The DOJ and the OSG considered alternative legal solutions,” Guevarra recounted after Soriano refused the motions of the DOJ which sought the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold departure order against Trillanes.

“Since a petition for certiorari was eventually chosen, the OSG will pursue that path to its logical conclusion,” he stressed.

In its decision, the CA affirmed Judge Soriano’s ruling which upheld the validity of Proclamation No. 572. It said “there is nothing in the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the President to revoke the grant of a conditional amnesty, if he finds that the grantee failed to comply with the conditions thereof.”

It said: “Proclamation No. 572 is a valid exercise by the President of his Constitutional power of control over all executive departments, bureaus, and offices. This has been succinctly defined by the Supreme Court as essentially the power to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former with that of the latter.”

But the CA said that the trial court was correct in ruling that Trillanes complied with all the conditions of Proclamation No. 75, particularly the filing of an official amnesty application form and expressly admitting his guilt for the crimes he committed.

“Taking into consideration all of the evidence presented, the Court holds that the fact of private respondent’s actual filing of his application for amnesty is duly established in this case per the judicious factual findings of public respondent (Judge Soriano),” it added.

Last March 1, the CA set aside a Makati City RTC order that revived the rebellion case against Trillanes for his alleged role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

Set aside by the CA, in a decision written by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr., were the resolutions issued by Judge Elmo M. Alameda of RTC Branch 150 on Sept. 25, 2018 and Dec. 18, 2018.

Judge Alameda on Sept. 25, 2018 affirmed the legality of President Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation No. 572 which revoked the grant of amnesty to Trillanes under Proclamation No. 75 of then President Benigno S. Aquino III.

With his pronouncement, Alameda granted the motion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to re-open the case and issue an arrest warrant and a hold departure order against Trillanes.

But the CA said that Alameda “committed grave abuse of discretion when, without taking ample time to pause and ponder, whether or not it retained jurisdiction, summarily and cursorily considered the Omnibus Motion upon a matter involving a criminal action that it has long-ago dismissed.”

It added that the judge “acted with grave abuse of discretion that amounted to excess of jurisdiction, thus ousting it of jurisdiction, when it shunned testimonial evidence.”