TIMELINE: Gov't gaps, retractions in voiding Trillanes amnesty

We trace the events and statements surrounding Proclamation No. 572, which has gripped the nation for the past week

Lian Buan

8:57:9am September 9, 2018

8:57:9am September 9, 2018

Duterte photo by Malacañang; Trillanes photo by Angie de Silva; Guevarra photo by Darren Langit; Calida photo by Lian Buan; Andolong screenshot from Rappler video; background photo by AFP

Duterte photo by Malacañang; Trillanes photo by Angie de Silva; Guevarra photo by Darren Langit; Calida photo by Lian Buan; Andolong screenshot from Rappler video; background photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Saturday, September 8, that the proclamation voiding his amnesty was "hastily and sloppily done," as the past 5 days revealed gaps in the executive actions taken to have him arrested.

"Tinatapalan na nila 'yung butas na ginawa ni (Solicitor General Jose) Calida… Lumalabas na hindi lang masamang tao (si Duterte) kundi mahina pa ang kukote niya," Trillanes said. (They are now patching the holes left by Calida, and it's becoming more apparent that Duterte is not only evil, he is also dumb.)

We trace the events and statements surrounding Proclamation No. 572, which has gripped the nation for the past week:

August 30 – Lieutenant Colonel Thea Joan Andrade of the military's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (J1) signs a certification stating that "there is no available copy" of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's amnesty application.

August 31 – President Rodrigo Duterte signs Proclamation No. 572 voiding the amnesty given to Trillanes. The proclamatioin states that the amnesty is void ab initio, or void from the start, for not meeting requirements, like an official application and an express admission of guilt. It directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the court martial to pursue criminal and administrative charges, and both the army and the police to "apprehend" Trillanes and bring him to jail.

September 2 – Duterte flies to Israel and Jordan for an official visit, bringing with him top Malacañang officials like Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Medialdea's former deputy, is assigned officer in charge. Guevarra would later reveal that it was only on this that he was informed of the proclamation.

September 4 – Proclamation No. 572 is published on the Manila Times.

This is where the gaps and the retractions begin.

CASES SUSPENDED OR DISMISSED?

The DOJ first claimed charges were "merely suspended" due to the amnesty, and can be reopened again. It turned out the cases were not merely suspended but dismissed.

In a press conference on noon of September 4, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced the plan of the DOJ to seek an arrest warrant from civilian courts, particularly from Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 which handled the coup d'état charges against Trillanes in relation to the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.

Acting Prosecutor General Richard Fadullon said Branch 148 was set for a decision in 2010, but it was not promulgated because of the amnesty. 

The DOJ filed later that afternoon its very urgent motion for a warrant of arrest against Trillanes at Branch 148. In their motion, they cited an order on December, 16, 2010, granting Trillanes' motion to cancel promulgation.

"It is clear that this instant case is still pending with this Honorable Court and has yet to be terminated through a promulgation of judgment which was merely suspended last December 16, 2010," the motion reads.

This was DOJ's mistake, because Trillanes' camp published that evening a copy of the decision they just obtained that day from Branch 148 showing that the charges were not "merely suspended" but dismissed on September 21, 2011. The 2010 order that was DOJ's basis in its motion was not the most recent order.

Guevarra also said in the afternoon press conference that trial has finished at Branch 148, meaning that Trillanes can no longer present his evidence.

"In my opinion, assuming that a full blown trial has already been conducted, then there's no need to repeat. Any judge who will take over and promulgate the judgment need only go through the record, the transcript," said Guevarra.

But in an interview with reporters morning of Wednesday, September 5, Branch 148 Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano said that the trial did not, in fact, finish, and that Trillanes can resume presenting his evidence.

"They were not able to present evidence on their part because Senator Trillanes, he already accepted amnesty. There may still be trial with respect to the defense," said Soriano.

On the evening of September 4, it would become apparent that Branch 148 is not the only Makati court that handled Trillanes' charges. There was also Branch 150 who handled the rebellion charges against Trillanes over the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano posted on his Facebook page a copy of a decision that shows even Branch 150 dismissed the charges on September 7, 2011.

After this, the DOJ would change its theory, and would insist that despite the dismissal of charges, the voiding of amnesty warrants the reopening of the case.

The DOJ filed its motion for an arrest warrant at the Makati RTC Branch 150 only on Friday, September 7. When earlier they said Trillanes could no longer present evidence because the trial is done, in its motion in Branch 150, they use the argument that because the trial was not finished, then the case is still pending.  (READ: EXPLAINER: Why DOJ has 2 requests for Trillanes warrant)

"It is clear the case is still pending as the prosecution has yet to present its evidence in chief insofar as accused Trillanes is concerned," said the DOJ.

Judge Elmo Alameda told reporters he would decide on the motion the following Monday, September 10, because the entire case records have to be retrieved from a "bodega" (warehouse) in another building.

Asked why the DOJ belatedly filed its motion before Branch 150, Fadullon said it's because Branch 148 was the closest to his memory as he was the handling prosecutor there years back.

MILITARY ARREST OR COURT-ISSUED WARRANT?

Guevarra said on September 4 that while the DOJ applies for a warrant of arrest before civilian courts, the proclamation – being a presidential directive – is sufficient authority for law enforcement officials to apprehend Trillanes. 

"He will be placed in custody, as to where that will be, that is a matter that we need to await and maybe for now if there's a pending session in the Senate, the Senate can probably put him under custody in the meantime," Guevarra said.

Trillanes ended up really staying inside the Senate, not because the DOJ allows for an arrangement, but because the minority bloc requested Senate President Tito Sotto to allow him to stay inside for his own safety.

DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong announced also on September 4 that a detention cell was already being prepared for Trillanes at the AFP Custodial Center.

AFP Judge Advocate General Colonel Serme Ayuyao went to the Senate early evening of September 4, bearing a document, and entered Trillanes' office where he has began to set up camp. Senators cannot be arrested inside the building.  No arrest happened.

On September 5, the DND bolstered its position that Trillanes can be arrested without a warrant. DND Internal Audit Service chief Ronald Rubin said the court martial has jurisdiction over Trillanes because the senator is reverted back to military service due to the voiding of his amnesty.

When on September 4, Guevarra said the proclamation was enough basis to apprehend Trillanes, he changed his tune and said afternoon of September 5 that the senator can only be arrested with a court-issued warrant. He begged off from commenting on a military arrest citing lack of knowledge on military rules.

But come that evening, Guevarra changed tunes again. The justice secretary suddenly supported a military arrest, saying the court martial has jurisdiction over Trillanes. Guevarra said the court martial only loses jurisdiction when the proceedings terminate. Because the amnesty is void, the proceedings are considered not terminated, says Guevarra. When asked what the proceedings were for, the justice secretary said it was possibly for mutiny or sedition.

On September 6, Trillanes filed a petition with a request for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at the Supreme Court. There, his lawyer Rey Robles told reporters that the court martial proceedings against Trillanes were only for conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, where the highest penalty is dismissal from service. Robles said there were no court martial proceedings for mutiny.

All day on September 6, the DND became silent, citing sub judice due to Trillanes' Supreme Court petition.

Late evening of September 6, the opposition fielded information that Trillanes was going to be arrested by the military "any time." Malacañang also announced Duterte would be back from Jordan on Saturday, September 8, a day earlier than scheduled.

In the tense morning that followed, Trillanes filed on September 7 a motion for a special raffle at the Supreme Court. Under the Court's internal rules, a special raffle could allow the justice in charge to make a recommendation on the same day.

Trillanes told the media that a Supreme Court TRO would be a "face saving" measure for the military not to conduct the warrantless arrest without necessarily defying their commander in chief.

Asked by Rappler that afternoon whether the DOJ would pursue a warrant from Makati RTC Branch 150, or if they would let the court martial apprehend Trillanes, Guevarra said "both."

At exactly 1 pm of September 7, the DND broke its silence and said, contrary to its former opinion, it was now deferring any action on Trillanes, and would just wait for a decision by the Supreme Court.

Note that Guevarra was in the Philippines, while both DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief General Carlito Galvez were in Jordan with Duterte.

An hour or so later, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque sent a statement from Jordan saying that after "a long discussion" with his Cabinet, Duterte is now ruling out military arrest, and that the president prefers to wait for a warrant of arrest from the Makati RTC. 

It also became known around the same time that Trillanes' petition has been raffled off to Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, a potential chief justice front runner when Teresita Leonardo De Castro retires in October.

Trillanes, however, said he doesn't believe Duterte's most recent statement as he's supposedly continuing to receive information that the military is still under orders to arrest him. 

WHY REVOKE TRILLANES' AMNESTY?

Proclamation No. 572 declares that Trillanes "failed to apply and refused to admit guilt" for the amnesty, that's why it is void. The certification from the military J1 signed on August 30 only said "there is no available copy" of Trillanes' application.

On September 4,  DND's Andolong said they are still trying to locate Trillanes’ missing application form. 

Guevarra said in his September 4 press conference that the review into Trillanes' amnesty has been in the pipeline for years. He said it could have been started as early as 2013, or during the Aquino administration, and handled by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)

Solicitor General Jose Calida, interviewed at the Supreme Court later in the afternoon on September 4, was evasive about his role on the review of Trillanes' application. But over at Camp Aguinaldo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Colonel Edward Arevalo told reporters it was Calida who inquired about Trillanes' amnesty at the J1.

Trillanes is accusing Calida of masterminding the voiding of his amnesty because the senator is pushing a Senate inquiry into at least P260 million worth of government contracts won by the family-owned security firm of the solicitor general since 2016 after he was appointed to office. 

By September 5, Rappler obtained 4 pages of documents dated January 2011 stating that the DND recognized and approved Trillanes' application for amnesty. Trillanes claims that the application form should be with the DND, being the receiving office.

In the evening of September 7, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, who visited Trillanes at the Senate, said that the OSG during his time from 2014 to 2016 never handled a review of Trillanes' amnesty. Hilbay said that the changes of tunes from the executive branch is a sign that "it's a dawning realization that they made a mistake." 

When Duterte arrived from Jordan on September 8, the president settled all speculations about who triggered the Trillanes amnesty review. It was Calida.

"Si Calida, medyo bright na matino. 'Pag sinabi ng SolGen (Solicitor General) na may mali, (Calida is kind of bright and upright. When the SolGen says there is something wrong) and this has to be corrected, I cannot refuse," Duterte said.

Trillanes said he will stay inside the Senate until the camp feels it's safe for him to go home. – Rappler.com