MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV may be pushed into a corner and ask his fiercest enemy, President Rodrigo Duterte, for executive clemency.
This was one of the scenarios that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra laid out on Tuesday, September 4, during a press conference held immediately after Proclamation 572 voiding Trillanes’ amnesty was published.
Guevarra, who is also the country’s officer-in-charge while Duterte is in Israel, said that as soon as the case at the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) is reopened, it will only be for the purposes of issuing a warrant of arrest, and pushing through with the promulgation which has already been set before he was granted amnesty in 2010.
According to Guevarra, this means that Trillanes can no longer have his case tried, and that his last resort would be to ask Duterte for executive clemency.
This would depend on whether Trillanes would want to do that, said Guevarra, as clemency is an act of grace.
“That’s a different matter altogether, we’re talking about executive clemency and that refers to the person who is the chief executive at the time that the application will be granted. He will be dealing with President Duterte this time, assuming that he wants to do that,” Guevarra said.
Trillanes’ amnesty was voided because a review by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) found that the senator did not fulfill two fundamental requirements – file an official application expressing an admission of guilt.
Trillanes and other Magdalo mutinees were charged in relation to the Oakwood mutiny and the Manila Peninsula incident, which happened in 2003 and 2007, respectively.
No Trillanes application?
Prosecutor General Richard Fadullon said that as of their last inventory of the Makati RTC, the court’s order approving the applications did not include that of Trillanes.
“As far as the order that I have reviewed so far this morning, it did not include the name of Senator Trillanes, but again we’re having our prosecutors in Makati check with Branch 148, and check the records, and find out if there were other orders rendered,” Fadullon said.
Trillanes claimed in an interview at the Senate on Tuesday that he filed an official application expressing an admission of guilt.
What if Trillanes can prove that he fulfilled the requirements from the very start? Can the earlier amnesty be restored without him having to ask Duterte for one?
“We’ll cross the bridge when we get there,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra added that Trillanes can be arrested immediately by law enforcement officers, by virtue of Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572.
But the Department of Justice (DOJ) would have to apply for a court-issued warrant. Until then, Guevarra said Trillanes can be held in custody inside the Senate.
“That seems like a fair arrangement,” Guevarra said.
But when the court issues a warrant, Trillanes would have to be brought back to where he was detained before.
Legal experts see the possibility of questioning the validity of Proclamaion No. 572 up to the Supreme Court (SC).
Guevarra said that to his knowledge, there has not been a recent case where amnesty was declared void from the start or “void ab initio.”
It will be a case of first impression, just as the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno was. The withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is also a case of first impression.
“This is not a fad, there is no pattern,” Guevarra said. – Rappler.com
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