No arrest order yet as court wraps up

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Beleaguered Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV got another reprieve yesterday on the non-bailable coup d’etat charges for the 2003 Oakwood mutiny but the day of reckoning is expected soon.

After weeks of deliberation, the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 wrapped up proceedings on the motion filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) seeking Trillanes’ arrest.

The Makati court said it now considers the DoJ motion submitted for resolution, according to RTC Branch 148 Judge Andres Soriano.

In a four-page order dated 11 October, Soriano admitted all of the evidence Trillanes offered, except printouts of the official Facebook page of the Department of National Defense (DND) and a “throwback picture” of his, since these were not duly authenticated and never identified by defense witnesses in court.

The rest of the evidence, which include Trillanes’ certificate of amnesty, the affidavits of four defense witnesses and a printed photo of the senator’s application for amnesty, were admitted even as the court noted the DoJ’s objections.

“…The factual issues as specified in the order dated 28 September 2018 and the issue on the ‘legality’ of Proclamation 572 based on the pleadings/motions filed by the parties – as they may bear upon the prosecution’s Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Issuance of Hold Departure Order and Issuance of Alias Warrant of Arrest against Antonio Trillanes IV are now considered submitted for resolution,” Soriano said in his order.

Proclamation 572 revoked the amnesty which former President Benigno Aquino granted to Trillanes which effectively revived the rebellion and coup d’etat charges on him as a result of three military uprisings against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The court order also noted of the 17 exhibits or evidence submitted by the camp of Trillanes, the court has not admitted Exhibits 9 and 12 because they were not duly authenticated, presented and identified by any witness in court.

“Exhibit 9” is a printout of the official Facebook page of the DND while “Exhibit 12” is a printout of Trillanes’ throwback picture swearing in to the amnesty application he has submitted.

On the other hand, other evidence submitted by Trillanes’ camp have been admitted and will be considered in determining whether the court will grant the DoJ’s request.

Proof admitted

Among the admitted evidence were Trillanes’ certificate of amnesty, the affidavits of Col. Josefa Berbigal, Honorio Azcueta, Dominador Rull and Emmanuel Tirador.

Berbigal is the head of Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee Secretariat that received the amnesty application while Azcueta is a former undersecretary of the Department of National Defense and head of the ad hoc committee.

Rull and Tirador were present when Trillanes submitted his amnesty application form and submitted photographs as proof.

The court also recognized Exhibit 4 which is a printed photograph of Trillanes’ application for amnesty. The court said it is admitted despite objection from the DoJ because it is part of Rull’s testimony.

The court said “this is without prejudice to the determination of its probative value in due course.”

“If they are thereafter found relevant or competent; on the other hand, their admission, if they turn out later to be irrelevant or incompetent, can easily be remedied by completely discarding them or ignoring them,” the court added.

5 days for rejoinder

State prosecutors were also given five days by the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 to file their rejoinder on the reply of Trillanes’ camp.

Presiding Judge Elmo Alameda’s order was in response to the manifestation of prosecutors opposition to the motion for reconsideration of Trillanes against the issuance of the arrest warrant and hold departure order in connection with the revocation of his amnesty.

Among the evidence prosecutors challenged in the case was the original copy of the affidavit of Berbigal dated 20 September 2018.

The prosecution panel said they object to the purpose of the document because “Col. Berbigal failed to substantiate during her testimony on 5 October 2018 her statements in her affidavit that accused Trillanes admitted his guilt to the offenses subject of the amnesty.”

“Instead, during her cross examination, she testified that accused Trillanes only admitted guilt to the incidents but not the offenses for which he is being charged,” the prosecution said.

Berbigal’s statement that the application for amnesty was in order, complete and in compliance with all the requirements of Proclamation 75 is “misleading.”

The prosecution said during her testimony, Berbigal could not confirm this allegation by presenting the original, duplicate or photocopy of the application.

It added she had no authority to conclude that Trillanes complied with all the requirements of Proclamation 75 which granted the amnesty, explaining that as mere head of the secretariat, she was not the approving authority to determine who among the applicants were qualified.

The DoJ said Berbigal had “no authority to administer oath to accused Trillanes because DND Department Order 323 specifically provides for a notary public to be assigned to the secretariat who will duly administer the oath of the amnesty applicants.”

They further objected to the testimony of Azcueta, noting that the latter “failed to substantiate his claim that he caused the strict compliance with all the requirements set forth by Proclamation 75 and DND Circular 1.”

The panel also objected to the affidavit of Rull branding it as “self-serving and contains baseless and biased statements, the witness being the executive assistant of accused Trillanes,” and had “no authority to determine whether the alleged application form was properly filled up by accused Trillanes.”

Likewise, objected to by the prosecution was the affidavit of Tirador, a co-accused of Trillanes in the case.

The DoJ also opposed Trillanes’ counsels’ presentation of a blank application form for amnesty, citing that “a mere blank application form cannot prove the existence of a duly filled up application form.”

The form, the prosecution said, “cannot prove admission of guilt by the accused Trillanes… because the same document requires the submission or attachment of a separate narration of facts of his involvement/participation in the offenses by which he is charged.”

with Alvin Murcia

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