The Court of Appeals has overturned the ruling of the Makati City Regional Trial Court in 2018 reviving the rebellion case against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for his involvement in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
In a 59-page decision, the CA’s Sixth Division, through Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr., granted his petition seeking to nullify the orders issued by Makati City RTC, Branch 150, Presiding Judge Elmo Alameda on September 25, 2018 and December 18, 2018.
Alameda, in his September 25 order, sustained the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 572, which revoked the grant of amnesty to Trillanes by former President Aquino.
This paved the way for the lower court’s granting of the motion of the Department of Justice for the reopening of the rebellion case and the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold departure order against the senator.
The trial court stressed that Trillanes failed to comply with the minimum requirements to be entitled to an amnesty.
The lower court ruled the former senator failed to prove that he actually applied to be granted amnesty and that he expressly admitted his guilt to the crimes committed pertaining to the Manila Peninsula takeover.
However, while the CA upheld the constitutionality of Proclamation 572, it noted that the DOJ failed to comply with the procedural rules in assailing the validity of the Makati RTC’s dismissal of the rebellion case in 2011.
“In the criminal case subject of herein petition, the prosecution did not file an action for the annulment of or for relief from the Order of September 7, 2011, nor did it move for the issuance of a writ of certiorari to invalidate the said order. The alleged void Order, which dismissed the rebellion charge was attacked only through the Omnibus Motion filed in the same case, which prayed for the issuance of a warrant of arrest and hold departure order against the petitioner,” the appellate court said.
“The attack, therefore, was merely a collateral one. Tested against the outlined procedural standards above, the remedy resorted to by the DOJ cannot be anything else but irregular and improper. The respondent court gravely abused its discretion when it took cognizance of DOJ’s Omnibus Motion, set aside its Order of September 7, 2011, and revived the criminal action against the petitioner,” the CA said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he is leaving it up to the Office of the Solicitor General to handle the appeal of the CA decision.
“I will leave it to the Office of the Solicitor General, as counsel for the government, to determine the appropriate legal remedy, which may include a motion for reconsideration with the Court of Appeals or a petition for review with the Supreme Court,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
“I have not read the decision. But I know that the issues are exclusively jurisdictional in character,” he added.
Prior to the grant of amnesty, Trillanes and several members of the Magdalo were charged with coup d’etat for the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and with rebellion for the Manila Peninsula siege.