Still no warrant: Trillanes buys more time from 1st Makati court

 

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for today, Thursday, September 13, because Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 still did not issue a warrant of arrest allowing for time to file pleadings.

After the hearing Thursday morning, Branch 148 Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano merely ordered Trillanes to file within 10 days his rejoinder to the newly-submitted pleading of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

DOJ’s state prosecutors reiterated on Thursday why a warrant of arrest must be issued. Branch 148 handled the coup d’etat charges against Trillanes in connection with the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, but dismissed the case in September 2011 after he was granted amnesty.

“The Honorable Court never lost its jurisdiction over the case,” said the DOJ, arguing that the dismissal of the case “has no legal effect” because its basis was the amnesty that President Rodrigo Duterte declared void ab initio.

“It is not even necessary to take any steps to vacate or avoid a void judgment or final order; it may simply be ignored,” said the DOJ in the reply signed by Acting Prosecutor General Richard Fadullon, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, and Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat.

After Trillanes files his reply, the DOJ can again have 5 days to comment on it. That is the only time that the motion to issue a warrant of arrest can be submitted to Judge Soriano for resolution. It will take weeks at the least.

“In a motion, it’s usually 30 days but given the scenario, or the immediate need to resolve the motion, it’s up to the Judge whether to resolve it in a shorter time,” said Branch 148 Clerk of Court Maria Rhodora Peralta.

The Supreme Court has referred meantime to the Makati RTC the motions for an arrest warrant, while it continues to deliberate on the main petition of nullifying Duterte's Proclamation No. 527.

Judge Alameda

But Trillanes will have to hold his breath until Friday, September 14, when Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda hears a similar request for a warrant. (READ: EXPLAINER: Why DOJ has 2 requests for Trillanes warrant)

Alameda, in his initial order that set the hearing, did not require Trillanes to comment, prompting this reporter to ask the court whether it’s possible for Judge Alameda to have an instant decision on Friday.

While Branch 150 Clerk of Court Diosfa Valencia said that an instant decision is possible, Trillanes’ lawyers can also make a manifestation on the spot to file a pleading. If Judge Alameda allows the pleading, then it’s also possible for the case in his court to follow the same route as Soriano’s.

The difference between Soriano and Alameda is that the latter handled the later 2007 Manila Peninsula-related rebellion charges against Trillanes. In September 2011, Alameda also dismissed the rebellion charges due to the amnesty.

Rebellion has been held by different Supreme Court decisions to be a continuing crime. In a continuing crime, “authorities may resort to warrantless arrests of persons suspected of rebellion, as provided under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.”

But that is, of course, dependent on Alameda’s assessment. Alameda’s hearing is set for 9 am, Friday, September 14. – Rappler.com

 

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.

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