THE OFFICE of Solicitor-General (OSG) on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petition of Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV for a Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order on Proclamation No. 572 voiding his amnesty.
In its comment filed Sept. 24, The OSG stated that the power to grant clemency is the President’s alone and should not be delegated to other persons, which OSG argued was the case with President Benigno S.C. Aquino III’s delegating the granting of amnesty on Mr. Trillanes to then defense secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin.
OSG said this is also in violation of Section 19, Article VII of the Philippine Constitution which states that the President “shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of the majority of all the Members of the Congress.”
Further, the power of clemency is a “quintessential and non-delegable Presidential power,” OSG also said, citing a previous SC decision.
“Therein lies the flaw: this is not an instance where the doctrine of qualified political agency applies…Clemency must be exercised by the President personally and no amount of approval or ratification will validate the exercise of that power by any other person,” the OSG comment read.
“Plainly, not all executive powers and prerogatives can be delegated by the Chief Executive to his alter egos. Some need, nay, require the president himself and none other to exercise the power — as is the case with executive clemency,” it added.
Under Section 2 of Mr. Aquino’s Proclamation No. 75, Mr. Trillanes’s application for amnesty was handled by an ad hoc committee of the Department of National Defense (DND) which was tasked with receiving and processing such applications.
Mr. Gazmin was also the undersigned in Mr. Trillanes’s certificate of amnesty, the OSG noted.
“Indeed, Article VII, section 19 of the Constitution refers to the president alone. As such, SND Gazmin’s act of granting amnesty, as he did to petitioner, was ultra vires, therefore illegal,” the OSG said in its comment.
Mr. Trillanes and other mutineers were granted amnesty in 2011 in connection with the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, 2006 Marine Standoff, and 2007 Manila Peninsula Seige.
Also in 2011, Makati RTC Branches 148 and 150 dismissed Mr. Trillanes’s coup d’etat case in connection with the Oakwood mutiny and rebellion case in connection with the Manila Peninsula siege.
Mr. Trillanes, for his part, presented on Monday the affidavits of two officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) attesting to his full compliance with his 2011 amnesty application.
The head secretariat of the 2011 DND Ad hoc Amnesty Committee, Col. Josefa C. Berbigal, said in her affidavit that “the committee found Sen. Trillanes’ amnesty application to be in order, complete and in compliance with all the requirements of Proclamation No. 75, Series of 2010.” Ms. Berbigal also maintained that she personally received Mr. Trillanes’s amnesty application form on Jan. 5, 2011. She also asked the senator to read the pre-printed statement contained in the application form, making a general admission of his guilt in connection with the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
In the affidavit of the 2011 DND Ad Hoc Amnesty Committee chairman, then defense undersecretary Honorio S. Azcueta stated that the “amnesty applications which were recommended to be for approval by the committee,” including Mr. Trillanes’s application, “underwent the necessary and the applicable process set” in the presidential proclamation.
Mr. Trillanes said the documentary evidence establishes that he has submitted his amnesty application form and that he has admitted his guilt over the past coup attempts.
Sa patas na labanan, talagang walang paraan para mag-iba ng desisyon (In a fair fight, there’s no other way that the decision will be changed),” he said in an interview with reporters outside his Senate office.
“We just have to wait until we see the decision. This is (a) test for our democracy and the rule of law,” he added.
According to Presidential Proclamation No. 572, signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Aug. 31, Mr. Trillanes failed to submit his official amnesty application form as no copy was found in the DND records and he also failed to acknowledge the mutiny charges against him.
The documents were submitted to the Makati Regional Trial Court Branches 148 and 150 on Monday morning, the senator said. The affidavits came after Judge Elmo M. Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ordered last Sept. 14 the submission of all affidavits from both Mr. Trillanes and the Department of Justice.
Mr. Trillanes also submitted to Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 his rejoinder to the prosecution’s reply regarding its urgent motion for the issuance of an arrest warrant and hold-departure order on the senator.
He also asked the court to declare Proclamation No. 572 unconstitutional and illegal.
As both parties have submitted their replies and rejoinders, the case will be up for resolution as per Judge Elmo M. Alameda’s order during the hearing last Sept. 14.
Citing the Bill of Rights, Mr. Trillanes claimed his right to equal protection of the law is violated because his name was stated eight times in the proclamation and was the only one affected by it.
“Much worse than ‘class legislation,’ it is obvious from even a cursory reading of Proclamation No. 572, series of 2018, that Petitioner, whose name has been repeatedly mentioned in the text of the proclamation as LTSG. Antonio Trillanes IV, is being singled out and specifically targeted by the proclamation, thus, clearly showing the illicit and malicious nature thereof,” he said.
He also claimed that the prosecution failed to provide any proof for the factual basis of the voiding of his amnesty as the only proof presented was the certification signed by Lt. Col. Thea Joan N. Andrade which stated that there is no copy of his application for amnesty.
“Nowhere but nowhere in Certification of Lt. Col. Andrade did she state, claim and/or assert that former Accused Trillanes did not file his application for amnesty,” he said in the rejoinder.
He argued further that the best proof that he applied for amnesty is his certificate of amnesty and not his application for amnesty.
“There can be no doubt whatsoever that it is the Certificate of Amnesty which is supposed to be the penultimate document under the law which is given to the grantee to prove that he has actually availed of, applied for, duly qualified for and was granted amnesty,” Mr. Trillanes said. — reports by Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Camille A. Aguinaldo