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It seems at first blush that there is something contradictory in the 33-page resolution of Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 148, denying the Department of Justice's (DOJs) "Ex-parte Motion for Issuance of a Hold Departure Order and Arrest Warrant" against Antonio Trillanes. The said motion is actually based on Duterte's Proclamation 572 which ordered the law enforcement agencies to have Trillanes arrested and which the Court declared as valid and constitutional.

The immediate question that comes to mind is that, if the basis of the DOJ's motion is valid and constitutional, why did the RTC denied said motion? On closer examination and in depth study of said order of RTC Judge Soriano however, it becomes clear that there is really no contradiction. As set forth in the order and based on the records of the case, Trillanes opposed said Motion of the DOJ by assailing the legality and constitutionality of Proc.

572. He contended that said Proclamation: (1) constitutes a usurpation of the judicial power to review among others, Presidential Proclamations like Proc. 75 which is vested exclusively and solely on the Supreme Court and other courts created by law (2) transgresses the constitutional design to grant amnesty when it declared void Proc.

75 without the concurrence of Congress (3) violates the due process clause and exclusive authority of the courts to issue warrants of arrest when it directed the arrest of Trillanes (4) violates the constitutional prohibition on "ex post facto laws and bills of attainder" because it abrogated an amnesty grant and recriminalizes what has been decriminalized and effectively punishes Trillanes without trial and (5) violates the equal protection clause because it singles out and targets Trillanes, even as there are others who are and may be similarly situated. In resolving the DOJ Motion and Trillanes' Opposition, the Judge first of all pointed out that Proclamation No.

572 (Proc 572) has been misconstrued or misread because said proclamation did not declare as null and void Proclamation No. 75 (Proc.

75) granting amnesty to Trillanes. According to Judge Soriano Proc.

572 declared as null and void only "the grant of the amnesty to Trillanes due to his alleged failure to comply with the basic requirements to qualify for such amnesty." In other words it is not Proclamation 75 itself that was voided but the manner of implementing said Proclamation on the ground that Trillanes allegedly failed to file an application for amnesty and to admit his guilt.

As Judge Soriano declared, "Proclamation No. 572 does not pretend to review the validity of Proclamation No.

75 only its implementation as to Trillanes." With these clarifications, the RTC thus ruled that Trillanes' contention that Proc.

572 violates the Constitution is misplaced and irrelevant because: (1) it does not encroach on the exclusive judicial power to review presidential proclamations (2) it does not transgress the shared power between the President and Congress to grant amnesty since it did not actually void Proc. 75 but is merely an exercise of the power of control of all the executive departments of the government specifically the Department of National Defense and its Ad Hoc Committee that issued the erroneous Resolution No.

2 which included Trillanes as one of those qualified for amnesty. The RTC also ruled that Proc 572 did not violate the due process clause of the Constitution because it did not actually direct the arrest of Trillanes without warrant, but merely to "pursue all criminal and administrative cases against Trillanes in relation to the Oakwood Muntiny and the Manila Peninsula incident, and to employ all lawful means to apprehend him, not to apprehend him without regard of the law or without warrant of arrest and to stand trial for the crimes he is charged.

There is no directive in Proc. 572 to apprehend him at all cost.

RTC Judge Soriano likewise ruled that Proc. 572 does not violate the proscription against ex-post facto law which generally prohibits the retroactivity of penal laws or those that define crimes, treat of their nature and provides punishment.

Proc. 572 does not come within the purview of this definition since it is not an act of the legislature but essentially an Executive Act.

Furthermore, the RTC also reiterated that Proc. 572 does not operate to revoke Proc.

75 but only the erroneous grant to him of the benefits of Proc No. 75 due to his alleged non-compliance with the basic requirements of availing said amnesty.

The court also ruled that Proc. 572 cannot be considered as a bill of attainder since such bill is a legislative act that inflicts punishment without trial.

Besides, said Proclamation does not inflict punishment without trial because it precisely directs the DOJ to pursue the previous cases filed against Trillanes and does not preclude the determination of his guilt in a proper trial. Finally the RTC also ruled that Proc.

572 does not violate the equal protection clause enshrined in our Constitution because said proclamation does not preclude future investigations of the 277 other amnesty grantees under Proc. 75. On the factual basis of Proc.

572, the RTC extensively heard and closely examined six witnesses for the Prosecution and four witnesses for Trillanes. Also admitted as evidence are 13 exhibits for the Prosecution and 17 for Trillanes.

These witnesses and exhibits are supposed to resolve the twin factual issues of whether or not Trillanes filed the requisite application for amnesty and whether or not there was an admission of guilt on his part. After carefully weighing the evidences presented by the parties and the applicable rules in connection therewith, the RTC found that Trillanes did file the amnesty application in the prescribed form in which he also admitted his guilt for his participation in the Oakwood Mutiny among others.

Proc 572 is there constitutional and legal but factually, it has no basis thus the prayer for issuance of hold departure order and warrant of arrest was denied due course. Besides, the RTC said that the case against Trillanes has long been dismissed by the Court on September 21, 2011 yet.

It has, and has thus become final and immutable and can no longer be revived.
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:3URUG
Date:Oct 25, 2018
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