Judge Soriano of Makati is at ‘last stage’ of deciding Trillanes case

Lian Buan
Judge Soriano of Makati is at ‘last stage’ of deciding Trillanes case
The Makati judge skips a conference in Tagaytay to finish what is arguably the biggest legal battle of the opposition this year

MANILA, Philippines – Judge Andres Soriano of the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 must be feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders right now.

The chief of Makati police has frequently visited his office over the last weeks, constantly asking the question on everybody’s mind: Has he decided on the case of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and will there be an arrest or not?

Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Rogelio Simon said on Thursday, October 18, that Soriano personally told him “not today.” Simon said he’s not expecting a decision either on Friday, October 19. (READ: Trillanes case: Who is Judge Soriano of Makati?)

Soriano has been working on this case for 3 weeks now, and in between he issued an anti-climactic deferment, asked for an additional hearing and pleadings, and contemplated on it once more.

Last week, on October 11, the case was once again submitted for resolution, but one week seems not enough to decide what is arguably the biggest legal battle of the opposition this year.

“He’s at the last stage of his work, his assignment, his homework, and he told me, 2 or 3 hours before the release of the resolution he will inform me,” said Simon.

Simon, visibly frustrated, explained that his frequent visits are meant to make sure that there will be prior coordination in the event of an arrest order. Simon said he wants to know so he can be prepared.

“Kasi magmo-mobilize tayo ng mga tao, so alam naman natin na ang lahat ng resources natin every day naka-deploy lahat ‘yan for the security of our constituents (Because we will mobilize our people, we know that all our resources are deployed every day for the security of our constituents),” Simon said.

Truly, if Soriano orders Trillanes arrested, it will require a meticulous security plan for the arresting officers and escorts, especially since the senator has been claiming threats to his life.

STAKEOUT. Reporters covering Senator Antonio Trillanes' coup d'etat case at Makati RTC Branch 148. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler


Members of the media have been on stakeout outside Soriano’s office for nearly a month, and his once quiet work life has been disrupted by reporters ready to roll their cameras at the slightest sight of the judge who wears fedora hats whenever he steps out. 

On October 1, Soriano went to work to find flowers and stuffed toys on his door. It was a day after Soriano deferred ruling, giving Trillanes more breathing space. The flowers had these words on them: “fortitude,” “legacy” and “justice,” a move that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said was improper and unethical on the part of Trillanes supporters.

This week, Soriano skipped the scheduled Judges Conference in Tagaytay.

“According to him, priority niyang matapos ‘yan, hindi na nga siya nag-attend ng convention nila ng judges, all the judges are in Tagaytay, but for him, he prefers to finish his assignment (it’s his priority to finish this, he didn’t even attend the judges’ convention, all judges are in Tagaytay but for him, he prefers to finish his assignment),” Simon said.

Compared to Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda, Soriano is taking his time.

Whereas Alameda held only one hearing, and ordered Trillanes’ arrest the day after the case was submitted for resolution, Soriano has taken more than 3 weeks. (READ: How Trillanes family is coping with his amnesty ordeal)

On Wednesday, October 17, Branch 148 Clerk of Court Maria Rhodora Peralta asked to meet with reporters to advise that we go home, because “there will be no order today, and probably not tomorrow.”

Para hindi na daw kayo mapagod maghintay  (so you won’t get tired waiting),” Peralta said.

FLOWERS FOR JUDGE. Flowers bearing thank you notes welcome Judge Andres Soriano on October 1 after he deferred a decision on the request to arrest Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Sourced photo

Tough call to make

In the hearing on October 5, Soriano said: “I know there are sensitive considerations, so this must be studied closely. I would like to study this a little more as I don’t want to force myself into a resolution.”

Soriano, indeed, has a tough decision to make.

He has to decide whether President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 voiding Trillanes’ amnesty is valid, and a trial court judge reviewing the act of a powerful president is no easy feat.

If Soriano orders Trillanes’ arrest, he and Alameda will greatly impact jurisprudence on the right against double jeopardy. (READ: EXPLAINER: Why Judge Alameda disregarded affidavits in Trillanes case)

Trillanes’ coup d’etat and rebellion charges have been dismissed long ago, but were reopened because Solicitor General Jose Calida found that the application form for amnesty is supposedly missing, leading Duterte to unilaterally void the amnesty and move to arrest and jail his fiercest, most vocal enemy.

The Supreme Court even dribbled this case, preferring to let the trial court decide first.

While his colleagues spend time to unwind in breezy Tagaytay, the 62-year-old Soriano stays holed up in his office as Trillanes, his family, and the entire country, hold their breath. – Rappler.com

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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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.