Still no warrant, as judge tells DOJ to give Trillanes due process

Lian Buan
Still no warrant, as judge tells DOJ to give Trillanes due process
The second court in Makati, like the first one, refuses to instantly issue a warrant of arrest against the senator, and instead sets the motion for hearing

MANILA, Philippines – Give the opposition senator his due process.

This is what Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda said in his order issued Monday, September 10, setting for hearing the Department of Justice or DOJ’s urgent motion to issue an arrest warrant against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

This follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 that voided the amnesty of Trillanes, and which prompted the DOJ to try and reopen charges at the lower courts related to Trillanes et al’s failed coup attempts.

Alameda said he “is not persuaded with the argument of the prosecution that its omnibus motion should not be set for hearing and should be acted by this court ex-parte.”

“The court is of the view that acting on the motion without setting it for hearing would definitely prejudice the right of the accused to due process,” Alameda said in a 3-page order issued on Monday.

The hearing has been set at 9 am on September 14, a day after Branch 148’s similarly scheduled hearing on September 13.

Accused of committing forum shopping by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for seeking arrest warrants from two courts, the DOJ will now have to convince two judges this week why they should reopen two cases that had been dismissed as early as 2011.

The charges before the two courts – for the 2003 coup d’etat in Oakwood and the 2007 rebellion charges in relation to the Manila Peninsula takeover – were dismissed pursuant to the amnesty given to Trillanes and the other mutineers by former president Benigno Aquino III. (READ: TIMELINE: Gov’t gaps, retractions in voiding Trillanes amnesty)

“Obviously, the motion cannot be called a non-litigable or non-litigated motion, such that it can be acted upon by this court ex-parte without prejudicing the right of the accused to be heard. As earlier mentioned, the reliefs applied for involve the issuance of a warrant of arrest of a case that has long been dismissed by this court,” said Alameda.

Alameda also took note that Trillanes is also raising before the Supreme Court (SC) the alleged unconstitutionality of Duterte’s proclamation, saying the President cannot unilaterally take away an amnesty that was approved by the Congress.

Trillanes also requested the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the proclamation.

The SC is expected to tackle the petition tomorrow, Tuesday, September 11, when the en banc meets. Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, a potential Chief Justice frontrunner, is the member-in-charge.

Branch 150 Clerk of Court Diosfa Valencia said it’s possible that the lower court proceedings might be put on hold in the event that the SC issues a TRO.

According to the Rules of Court if no appeal was made on a decision, the clerk shall enter a judgment in the book of entries of judgments. An entry of judgment typically declares a decision final and executory, and under existing jurisprudence, could not be reopened again.

Rappler has asked to see this entry of judgment, but both branches have not shown them so far, citing the need to still retrieve the records from years ago.

Asked whether the court is treating its 2011 dismissal of the case against Trillanes as “final and executory,” Valencia said: “Because the dismissal of the case was September 2011, so as for the court, it’s final, so we will still wait for the ruling of the Supreme Court.” –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.