Malacañang insists it can still void Trillanes' amnesty with Makati court ruling

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang disagrees with the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148’s conclusion that the 2011 dismissal of coup d’etat charges against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is final.

Reacting to Judge Andres Soriano’s denial of a justice department motion for an arrest warrant against Trillanes, Malacañang asserted that the 2011 dismissal of the case has no legal effect.

“Insofar as we are concerned, however, the first jeopardy has not yet been validly terminated since the dismissal of the case for coup d'etat was based on a void executive grant,” said Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Monday, October 22.

He added that Soriano’s conclusion that it was within Duterte’s powers to issue Proclamation No 572 means the administration can resort to legal remedies to ensure Trillanes’ arrest.

“Therefore, existing legal remedies under the law may be availed of, considering especially the said court’s confirmation that Presidential Proclamation No. 572 (s. 2018) is legal,” said Panelo. 

Branch 148 handled the coup d’etat charges against Trillanes in connection with the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, but these were dismissed in 2011 following the amnesty grant to the senator. 

In his statement, Panelo echoed previous arguments by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding this 2011 dismissal. The DOJ had said on September 13 that the dismissal “has no legal effect” because Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 declared void ab initio the amnesty granted to Trillanes. (READ: LIST: False claims of Duterte, Panelo about legal issues on Trillanes amnesty)

The DOJ even said the 7-year-old dismissal could “simply be ignored.”

But on Monday, Soriano junked the DOJ’s motion for an arrest warrant based on his conclusion that the 2011 decision of the same court  is “final and executory.” The court, said Soriano, ”finds itself powerless to disturb” the doctrine that a case dismissed with finality cannot be reopened.

Though Malacañang disagreed with Soriano’s decision, it said it “respects the denial” of the DOJ motion.

“The Palace respects the constitutional independence of the judiciary and it will continue to do so. As we have said, the Executive Branch has and will always bow down to the majesty of the law, and it will not think twice in doing the same for this particular case,” said Panelo.

It welcomed Soriano’s conclusion that Duterte did not overstep his constitutional mandate by issuing the proclamation.

“We welcome its affirmation of the validity of the proclamation issued by the President as it signifies that this administration is not engaged in the political persecution of its critics but is only enforcing the law against anyone who goes against its command,” said Panelo.

The Palace is leaving the DOJ and Office of the Solicitor General to decide on the next steps to take.

“The Office of the President will not preempt the Department of Justice or the Office of the Solicitor General from deciding which legal course it deems necessary to undertake relative to the case,” said Panelo. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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