DoJ rebuffs IBP on Trillanes

Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra

What double jeopardy?

Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra yesterday refuted the opinion of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), saying the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruling against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV smacks of double jeopardy.

Judge Elmo Alameda of Makati RTC Branch 150 ruled in September 2018 to reopen the rebellion charges against Trillanes. In a decision on 18 December 2018 made public only last Monday, the judge denied Trillanes’ omnibus motion seeking the reversal of the September ruling.

“I don’t think the principle of double jeopardy will apply in the rebellion case against Sen Trillanes,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra noted that Trillanes has not been arraigned, acquitted or convicted and the previous dismissal of the case was not upon the merits but upon his own motion in view of the grant of amnesty which government prosecutors now insist was actually void.

As such, Guevarra said Trillanes has never been placed in jeopardy at all.

Earlier, IBP president Abdiel Fajardo opined the previous dismissal of the criminal charges against Trillanes by virtue of amnesty granted to him has long become final and executory.

“Hence, they may no longer be revived or reopened without violating the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. No person can be held to answer twice for the same offense,” argued Fajardo.

He added that the trial court has the power to resist the actions of the Executive branch, especially when they appear to be in derogation of judicial power, in consonance with the doctrine of separation of powers.

Trillanes’ counsels said they are considering to appeal the ruling before higher courts.

The criminal charges against Trillanes were brought about by Proclamation 572 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte which voided the amnesty granted to the former-rebel soldier by the previous administration on the ground that the lawmaker failed to comply with the amnesty requirements.

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