DOJ to seek warrant vs Trillanes in another court 'but court martial faster'

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday, September 5, they will be going to another court to seek a warrant of arrest against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, though he believes a military arrest is faster.

“No need for warrant in a court martial, so baka faster ‘yun (so maybe that’s faster),” Guevarra told Rappler in a text message Wednesday night.

Guevarra and the Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to secure an instant warrant against Trillanes when the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 ordered on Wednesday to hear the motion first, and allow Trillanes to challenge it.

There were two previous charges against Trillanes in two courts in Makati pertaining to the failed coups against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo:

Both courts dismissed the charges against Trillanes in September 2011 pursuant to the amnesty granted to him by former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

LOOK: Aside from the dismissal of coup charges vs Trillanes in Sept 2011 by Makati RTC Branch 148, here are copies of the dismissal of rebellion charges vs Trillanes promulgated also in September 2011 by Makati RTC Branch 150. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/K9csbE0ota — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) September 5, 2018

 

When President Rodrigo Duterte voided Trillanes’ amnesty, the DOJ requested a warrant of arrest against Trillanes before Branch 148. 

Asked for the reason why they only went to Branch 148, Guevarra said: “Wala naman. Kasunod na ‘yung sa 150. (Nothing really, Branch 150 will follow).

That’s when Guevarra said that an arrest by the court martial, or the military court, would be faster.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said the civilian courts cannot reopen the case because the dismissal of the charges are already final.

Criminal law expert Alexander Padilla also said the amnesty grant was a done deal.

“It cannot now be revoked by the executive without violating our Constitution and the law on amnesty. If this is allowed, can the pardon of Joseph Estrada be likewise revoked? It will turn everything upside down and destroy the rule of law,” Padilla said.

Court martial

Trillanes presented on Wednesday a clearance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) certifying that in 2007, he was officially separated from the military and turned a civilian.

“Ito po ay resulta ng aking pag-reresign sa serbisyo noong ako ay nag-file ng certificate of candidacy (This is a result of my resignation from service when I filed a certificate of candidacy),” said Trillanes, who ran and won as senator in 2007.

Civilians are not covered by military courts.

But Guevarra said: “Once jurisdiction is acquired, it is not lost until the action is terminated. In Trillanes' case, the court martial proceedings were merely suspended because of the amnesty proclamation."

Guevarra said this position is supported by the Articles of War.

Guevarra’s statement came only hours after he initially told reporters that the police need a warrant to arrest Trillanes. “As to the rules of the court martial, I’m not in the military so I don’t know their rules pertaining to their arrest,” said Guevarra in a report by Philstar.com.

Lawyer Arno Sanidad, who represented some of the other mutineers, said: “The sole issue in my opinion is whether amnesty was granted. If it was, then all offenses committed by the applicant are deemed erased.”

Newsbreak reported in 2007 that the court martial dropped its mutiny charges against Trillanes. Mutiny is punishable by death.

The court martial instead re-filed a case for conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

Indeed, the Department of National Defense (DND) said that when the military court arrests Trillanes, it would be for conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman.

However, under the Articles of War, the offense is punishable only by dismissal from service. Trillanes is no longer with the military service, which would render it moot.

DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said that Trillanes can also be charged with a “general article offense which pertains to all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service."

Trillanes slammed all the moves as legal incompetence of all the agencies and units that are involved so far. 

“Mang-iipit na nga lang kayo, palpak pa. Kumbaga ayusin ninyo nga (You wanted to harass me but still you failed. You couldn’t even do it right),” said Trillanes, the fiercest enemy of Duterte.

Trillanes is set to file a petition before the Supreme Court Thursday morning, September 6. – Rappler.com

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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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