Trillanes wants Makati Judge to reverse ruling on legality of Proclamation 572

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Tuesday, October 30, that they intend to challenge Makati Judge Andres Soriano’s ruling that declared legal the issuance of Proclamation No. 572 which attempted to void his amnesty.

Trillanes’ lawyer Rey Robles indicated this in open court during the hearing on Tuesday at the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148. It was a hearing for the Department of Justice or DOJ's own motion for partial reconsideration.

Soriano’s ruling on October 22 was mostly a win for Trillanes, as it kept him free and closed with finality the coup d’etat charges before the judge’s court. But Soriano’s decision contaied a nuance wherein the judge also said the act of President Rodrigo Duterte issuing Proclamation No. 572 was legal. (READ: EXPLAINER: What Judge Soriano means in saying Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 is 'legal')

The DOJ, for its part, is asking that Soriano reconsider and grant their request to arrest Trillanes and reopen the charges.

"If that is the intent, then the proclamation should be nullified by the court, because it becomes illegal and unconstitutional because the President is trying to arrogate unto himself the power to nullify previous court decisions,” Robles said.

Nuanced decision 

Law professor and former Supreme Court Spokesman Ted Te downplayed fears that Soriano’s ruling on the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 572 will have adverse effects, simply because, he said, a trial court's decision is not binding on the High Court.

Te pointed out that the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 572 specifically refers only to Trillanes’ amnesty – the same amnesty that Soriano also referred to in the same ruling as valid, contrary to Duterte's assertions. 

Constitutional Law professor Tony La Viña also said that Soriano’s ruling on the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 572 is simply prudence on the judge’s part because “the rule always is to find an interpretation that avoids a declaration of unconstitutionality.”

"We are now saying there is now basis for the court to declare the proclamation unconstitutional insofar as they are trying to use it to assert or claim that the previous decision of the court is null and void because that is not within the power of the President," Robles said.

The plan to appeal comes even as the Supreme Court is currently discussing a petition by Trillanes questioning the same thing – the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 572. Trillanes argued at the High Court that Duterte could not unilaterally void an amnesty. (READ: Guevarra to Trillanes: This is just the start, let’s go to Supreme Court)

Trillanes’ camp is given 15 days to comment on the DOJ’s appeal, after which state prosecutors will have 5 days to reply to Trillanes.

“The Court notes the manifestation of Atty Robles that they may file a similar Motion for Partial Reconsideration from the Order dated October 22, 2018,” said Soriano in his order on Tuesday. –

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 or tweet @lianbuan.