Amnesty invalidation, libel raps vs. Trillanes ‘purely coincidental’
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday said the declaration of the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as void ab initio and the filing of libel cases against him were “purely coincidental”.
“The timing of the filing of the libel complaints vs. Senator Trillanes, according to the complainants, had nothing to do with the nullification of the Senator’s amnesty. The libel complaints were filed on the anniversary date of the utterance of the allegedly defamatory statements,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.
The justice chief was reacting to allegations that the two events were an orchestrated plan to bring down the opposition senator.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572 was signed last Aug. 31 and was disclosed to the public only last Sept. 2 while the filing of the two libel cases by presidential son and former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte and presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio against Trillanes, were on Sept. 6 but reported on September 7.
Carpio is the husband of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Z. Duterte.
Paolo Duterte’s complaint was received by Davao City Office of the Special Prosecutor-Assistant Regional Prosecutor Karl Andre Salcedo.
Guevarra, meanwhile, noted that the DOJ will not intervene in the libel case against the senator.
“No, I will not interfere in the conduct of the preliminary investigation. It is not proper,” he said.
The justice chief added that the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) does not have to wait for the Supreme Court to act on the petition filed by Trillanes.
He said the Makati RTC can proceed with acting on the criminal cases against the beleaguered senator over his involvement in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
“Unless restrained by the SC, the trial courts may proceed,” he said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already filed separate motions before Makati RTC Branches 148 and 150 asking that arrest warrants and hold departure orders (HDO) be issued against Trillanes.
The DOJ filed the motion before Branch 148 on Tuesday, while the motion before Branch 150 was filed on Friday.
Branch 148 is handling the coup d’etat case against Trillanes concerning the Oakwood mutiny while Branch 150 is handling the rebellion case against the senator over the Manila Peninsula siege.
Judge Andres Soriano of Branch 148 has already ordered a hearing on Sept. 13 over the DOJ’s motion.
Soriano has also directed Trillanes to file a comment regarding the DOJ’s motion.
On the other hand, Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda is expected to issue an order regarding the DOJ’s motion this coming week.
The DOJ filed the motions after Duterte issued Proclamation 572, which declared as “void ab initio” or void from the start, the amnesty granted to Trillanes for failing to comply with the requirements.
The amnesty was granted in 2010 under Proclamation No. 75 of then president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding the involvement of Trillanes and a number of others in the Oakwood mutiny and Manila Peninsula siege.
On Thursday, the camp of Trillanes, led by his lawyer Reynaldo Robles, filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking the issuance of a temporary restraining order against Duterte’s proclamation. (PNA)