Supreme Court denies Trillanes' plea, but orders no warrantless arrest

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Updated to include President Rodrigo Duterte's statements.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the petition of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the proclamation of President Rodrigo Duterte that voided his amnesty.

Supreme Court Acting Spokesperson Maria Victoria Gleorestry Guerra said "at least a majority" of the justices voted to deny Trillanes' motion for TRO and writ of preliminary injunction. Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Justices Marvic Leonen, Noel Tijam, and Alexander Gesmundo were on leave.

The high court took judicial notice of Duterte's earlier commitment that there will be no military arrest for Trillanes, therefore, the Supreme Court en banc sees no reason why there should be an injunction.

"The Court takes judicial notice of the categorical pronouncement of President Duterte that Senator Trillanes will not be apprehended, detained, or taken into custody unless a warrant of arrest has been issued by the trial court. There is no extreme and urgent necessity for the Court to issue an injunctive relief considering that the respondents have acknowledged Senator Trillanes' right to due process," it said.

Duterte on September 7 said there will be no military arrest for Trillanes, as the President defers to the civilian court's decision. The military also gave its word that it will not arrest Trillanes without a warrant from Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branches 148 and 150, where the Department of Justice filed urgent motions for the courts to issue alias warrant and hold departure order against the senator.

The Supreme Court decision did not mention if Proclamation No. 572, which voided the senator's amnesty, is still in effect. It also directed concerned government officials to comment on the petition within 10 days.


Despite the junking of his plea, Trillanes welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court, which he said is suspected of being partial to the Duterte administration.

"We are grateful Supreme Court showed some semblance of independence," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Trillanes failed in his attempt to get the high court on his side.

"There is no legal impediment now to implement Proclamation 572, but the President has previously decided that he will await action of the Regional Trial Court, but I do not want to preempt the President," he said.

President Duterte mentioned Trillanes' case in an interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo Tuesday.

"(Ex-defense chief Voltaire) Gazmin signed the amnesty itself. It is not possible to do that. Why? Because an act of pardon or amnesty is an act of state. It cannot be delegated to anybody but only to the president," he said.

Former Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda responded to Duterte in a statement also on Tuesday, saying, "Let there be no argument: President Aquino, in his personal and official capacity, granted amnesty to political offenders, which was concurred in by both Houses. That much is found in Proclamation No. 75 and that much is in compliance with the amnesty requirements under the 1987 Constitution."

Makati court to proceed with hearings

The Supreme Court said the case "appears to be factual in nature," in which only a trial court or the Court of Appeals can try facts. It will be up to the Makati courts to check if Trillanes filed his requirements to be granted an amnesty.

"It is appropriate that the Makati RTCs should be given leeway in exercising their concurrent jurisdiction to hear and resolve the pleadings/motions filed by the parties as regards the partiality of Proclamation No. 572," it said.

RTC Branch 148 will hear Trillanes' case on September 13, while Branch 150 will hear the case the next day.

Duterte on August 31 voided Trillanes' amnesty for alleged failure to comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Program.

The Duterte administration said Trillanes never admitted guilt for the coup attempts, and there are allegedly no records to show he applied and complied with the amnesty requirements. Duterte also questioned why former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin approved Trillanes' amnesty, alleging he committed usurpation of authority.