Trillanes hails Makati judge for 'single-handedly' restoring rule of law

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday, October 22, hailed Judge Andres Soriano of Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 for “single-handedly” restoring the rule of law under the Duterte administration.

Trillanes thanked Soriano for deciding in his favor, after the judge denied the Department of Justice’s motion for an arrest warrant and a hold departure order against him.

“Gusto rin natin pasalamatan si Judge Soriano (We also want to thank Judge Soriano), who single-handedly upheld justice and the rule of law in our country despite extreme pressure coming from the Duterte regime. Tayo po ay nabubuhayan ng loob na meron pong pag-asa sa ating bayan (We have high hopes for our country). He is personified by Judge Soriano at this point,” Trillanes said in a press conference after receiving the ruling from court sheriff Edmund de Javing.

Trillanes said the public knows the immense pressure that the 62-year-old judge was under, yet “he did what was right.”

“Kaya itong si Judge Soriano kung mga kagaya lang niya ang nasa hudikatura natin, SC, at kung saan man, ay mapapanatag ang loob ng bawat Pilipino (If only there were others like Judge Soriano in our justice system, in the SC, and elsewhere, every Filipino will have peace of mind). But we shall see kung ma-sustain ito ng (if this will be sustained by the) Supreme Court when this issue goes to their sala,” the senator said, adding the case would be ultimately decided by the SC.

Asked if he were surprised by the ruling, Trillanes admitted that he indeed expected a favorable outcome from Soriano, due to the judge's background.

Soriano’s decision was contrary to the earlier decision of Makati City RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda, who issued an arrest warrant against the senator on rebellion charges in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege. The senator is out on bail in connection with the revived charges. (READ: Judge Alameda's siblings get Customs promotion before Trillanes arrest)

“Let's just say objectively we were expecting na maganda 'yung magiging decision kasi the fact na pinag-aralan niya ito, binigyan niya ng chance both parties, piniga mga ebidensya, and in-admit ebidensya na in-offer namin.... Noong medyo hapon na, we feel na walang warrant 'yun. Otherwise inilabas na maaga-aga pa,” Trillanes said.

(Let's just say objectively we were expecting a favorable decision because of the fact that he studied the case, he gave a chance to both parties, he really studied the evidence, and he admitted the evidence we offered. Around afternoon today, we felt that there would be no warrant because if there were, they would have released it earlier.)

Crucial decision

In his decision released on Monday, Soriano noted that the same court had already dismissed the coup charges linked to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny in September 2011 and said the decision "has become final and executory."

The judge said he nonetheless gave it a second look upon orders from the SC.

In the ruling, Soriano cited a "well-established doctrine" that a "final and executory judgment shall be immutable."

The court, Soriano added, "finds itself powerless to disturb the said doctrine" even if it does not dispute the legality of the issuance of President Rodrigo Duterte's August 31 proclamation that voided the amnesty granted in 2011 to Trillanes and other ex-soldiers behind the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

In September, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 572, ordering the revocation of the amnesty granted to the senator – a move that sparked legal debates and criticism. 

Duterte initially ordered the police and military to arrest Trillanes and return him to a military facility.

But after public backlash, Duterte and the military pushed back, eventually saying they would defer to the courts. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email