Antonio Trillanes IV

‘Important case:’ Duterte gov’t will appeal Trillanes jailing to Supreme Court

Lian Buan

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‘Important case:’ Duterte gov’t will appeal Trillanes jailing to Supreme Court

UPHILL BATTLE. Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV has an uphill court battle, facing a slew of charges against the Duterte government.

File photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

'Calida is expected to do that to cover for the epic embarrassment he made. Regardless, we are ready,' says Trillanes

It’s an “important case” that the Duterte government will not stop until it gets from the Supreme Court a final ruling it wants – and that is throw back to jail staunch administration critic Antonio Trillanes IV for rebellion and coup d’etat charges previously forgiven by the former president via amnesty.

Having lost both bids at the Court of Appeals to reopen the cases on what it allege was a void amnesty, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said “considering the importance of the case to the government, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will certainly not leave the matter hanging at the level of the Court of Appeals.”

It was the Department of Justice (DOJ) which pursued in the Makati courts Duterte’s order in Proclamation 527 to arrest and jail Trillanes. The proclamation voided former president Benigno Aquino III’s amnesty. On that premise, Trillanes would face a retrial and be arrested because rebellion and coup d’etat are non-bailable charges.

The charges were based on Trillanes’ involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

Guevarra said the case was important “because it’s rebellion.”

Trillanes has faced a slew of legal battles under the Duterte government. These include libel, and an ongoing conspiracy to commit sedition trial in Quezon City over a supposed plot to oust Duterte via the Bikoy videos.

There is also a pending kidnapping complaint against him at the DOJ, which was from an allegation of a woman from Davao City who was supposed to be a witness against Duterte, but who turned around and said she was kidnapped and coerced to say nasty things about the president.

Kidnapping, if charged, is also non-bailable.

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Up to Supreme Court

The DOJ successfully reopened the rebellion charge before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150, but failed to reopen the coup d’etat charge before Branch 148.

Both were elevated at the CA, which the OSG handled for the DOJ. The government lost both cases, one in March, one last May.

The crux of the cases were whether Trillanes filed all the requirements for amnesty, including the application form, which the Duterte proclamation said was missing from the records of the defense department.

At the CA, the OSG raised new arguments over the validity of Aquino’s amnesty itself but the justices rejected the “mental calisthenics” of the government lawyers.

Guevarra said the DOJ continued to be involved in searching for “alternative solutions, but since a petition for certiorari was eventually chosen, the OSG will pursue that path to its logical conclusion,” which is the Supreme Court.

When the government lost the CA case for rebellion in March, the OSG immediately filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court on March 24.

In that petition, the OSG asked for an injunction on the CA ruling so they could continue trial for Trillanes in the rebellion case. Trillanes’ lawyer Rey Robles said there was no action yet on that petition.

‘[Solicitor General Jose] Calida is expected to do that to cover for the epic embarrassment he made. Regardless, we are ready,’ Trillanes said.

Trillanes cooped up in his Senate office for a month in September to October 2018 amid threats from different officials of the Duterte government that he could be arrested via a military court as a former soldier.

The government decided to defer to the civilian courts, and eventually all the way up to the Supreme Court. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.