MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation voiding Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s amnesty cannot be considered a warrant of arrest, the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said.
Only a court could issue an arrest warrant, Atty. Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo stressed.
“I doubt it that the President’s proclamation could serve as warrant of arrest against Senator Trillanes. Only the court from where the case of Senator Trillanes was filed could issue an arrest warrant against him,” Fajardo told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.
However, the coup and rebellion charges filed against Trillanes were already a “dead case” after their dismissal was ruled “final and executory” by a Makati City regional trial court in 2011, Fajardo said in a separate statement.
On Tuesday the Justice department argued that the coup charge against Trillanes has not yet been dismissed and the promulgation of the judgment was only suspended to give way to the amnesty proceedings.
But Trillanes, in a news conference at the Senate on Wednesday, presented court orders stating that the charges, which also included rebellion, were dismissed by the Makati City RTC in 2011.
“The RTC itself, in acting on the motion of the (Department of Justice), can rule that it cannot entertain it on the ground that it does not have the power to resurrect a dead case,” Fajardo told GMA News Online.
He added: “The dismissal of the criminal cases has been final and executory for eight years. A judgment that has become final can no longer be disturbed except to correct clerical errors.
“Not even the Supreme Court has the power to modify a judgment that has become final and executory. It is public policy that the judgment of the court must become final at some definite date fixed by law.”
Despite these, Makati RTC Branch 148 set the Justice department’s motion for hearing on Sept. 13. Trillanes was also given five days to comment on the government’s request for his arrest.
In another television interview, Fajardo said attempts to revive past cases against Trillanes and have the senator arrested will test the independence of the judiciary.
Fajardo found the need for the judiciary to intervene, with the executive and legislative branches seen to reach a stalemate.
“The hierarchy of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) will enforce the proclamation of the President, being followers of the order of their chief executive,” Fajardo told Balitanghali.
“On the other hand, the Senate is there as an institution, coequal to the executive branch, that doesn’t yield the person of Senator Trillanes,” he added.
Trillanes was granted amnesty in 2010 after his involvement in unsuccessful attempts to overthrow the Arroyo administration when he was still a Philippine Navy officer.
But Duterte, in Proclamation 572 signed Aug. 31, said the amnesty was “void ab initio.”
He also ordered the senator’s arrest, directing the Department of Justice and Armed Forces’ court martial to pursue cases against Trillanes in connection with two coups attempts.
Trillanes was currently in the custody of the Senate. Senate President Vicente Sotto III had said, citing rules, that no senator or representative can be arrested while Congress is in session.
“At this time talagang kailangan manghimasok iyong hudikatura at makikita natin kung talagang malaya ang hudikatura, judicial independence, that they can decide fairly and clarify to the people how things will proceed from now on,” Fajardo said. (With a report from GMA News/PN)