MANILA, Philippines – Makati Judge Andres Soriano earned praise from senators on Monday, October 22, who cited his "courage" with a ruling that struck down the foundation of President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation seeking to jail Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Soriano, who presides over Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148, rejected the petition of the justice department for an arrest warrant and a hold departure order against the President's harshest critic. He said he could not reopen the coup d'etat case that the sala, under a different judge, dismissed with finality in 2011.
The judge also said that while it was within Duterte's power to issue Proclamation 572, which sought to revoke the amnesty given by the Aquino administration to Trillanes, the premises of the order were not valid: that Trillanes, the former mutineer, didn't apply for amnesty and didn't admit guilt. Soriano said, in fact, Trillanes did.
"We laud Judge Soriano for siding with the truth, and for his courage amidst seemingly insurmountable pressure," Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said in a statement.
Aquino said it was a victory not just for Trillanes, but also the rule of law. (READ: Makati judge contradicts Duterte, says Trillanes filed for amnesty)
Senator Francis Pangilinan said Soriano's decision was a blow against tyranny.
"We are thankful that Judge Soriano chose to uphold the rule of law and refused to embrace tyranny, [a]s every judge ought to do if they are to be true to their oath," Pangilinan said in a separate statement.
Soriano is one of two judges handling revived criminal cases against Trillanes.
The other judge, Elmo Alameda of Makati RTC Branch 150, earlier said Trillanes' affidavits and certifications of applying for amnesty as having no probative value. He ordered the senator's arrest, but allowed him to post bail.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that while Soriano deserved a pat on the back, the judge could have done more if he declared Duterte's proclamation as "illegal and without basis."
Soriano dismissed the Department of Justice's arguments that Trillanes did not apply for amnesty and did not admit guilt, but he upheld Duterte's power to issue Proclamation No. 572.
Even without reading the full text of the decision, Senator Francis Escudero lauded Soriano's decision, saying, "Whatever the judge's reasoning is, it proves that our justice system is functioning and is alive and well." – Rappler.com