Palace: Duterte revocation of Trillanes’ amnesty no usurpation of power

November 10, 2018
Salvador Panelo
Salvador Panelo

MALACAÑANG yesterday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation No. 572, saying it is “by no means an intrusion or usurpation into the powers of the other independent branches of government” and said it is Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who continues to violate the concept of amnesty and seeks to subvert it.

The Palace issued the statement on Saturday in response to Trillanes’ motion for partial consideration filed before Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 148 which seeks to have the judge nullify Proclamation No. 572.

The senator’s camp is claiming the Department of Justice is trying to use Proclamation No. 572 to assert that a previous court decision -- particularly the dismissal of the coup d’etat case in 2011, after Trillanes was amnestied -- is void.

If this is the intent of the presidential proclamation, Trillanes’ lawyer Reynaldo Robles said it is “illegal and unconstitutional,” as it amounts to the President trying to “arrogate unto himself the power to nullify previous court decisions, which even the Supreme Court does not have at this point.

“We stand with the decision of Makati RTC Branch 148, in so far as it upheld the legality of Presidential Proclamation No. 572 (s. 2018),” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“The President’s Proclamation on the nullity of the supposed grant of amnesty to Senator Trillanes is a valid exercise of executive power as it is part of the Constitution’s mandate for the President to ensure the enforcement of all laws, including the lawful prosecution of those who violate such laws,” he added.

Panelo said the proclamation is “by no means an intrusion or usurpation into the powers of the other independent branches of government.”

“As correctly stated by the Makati court, the President’s proclamation does not trample upon the Congressional prerogative to concur with the grant of amnesties since it is not the amnesty proclamation that was declared void, but its implementation,” he added.

“Further, Proclamation No. 572, in so far as it may eventually lead to the prosecution of Senator Trillanes, is not an invasion upon the prerogative of the Judiciary since it merely seeks to correct an error upon which the dismissal of the charges against Senator Trillanes was based,” Panelo said. He stressed that the court still has the prerogative whether or not to have Trillanes prosecuted.

“Proclamation No. 572 cannot also be considered as a bill of attainder or an ex post facto law precisely because it is an executive exercise of power and not a legislative one,” Panelo added.

The Palace spokesperson also said Trillanes had and “is being given his day in court” and thus “cannot claim any denial of his right to due process.”

Panelo also said “there was also no threat of illegal arrest” against Trillanes.

He added that Duterte even ordered law enforcement agencies to wait for the proper warrants to be issued by the court.

“Senator Trillanes’ continued freedom from arrest and ability to present his arguments before the court are testaments of the government’s respect for his constitutional right to due process,” he said.

Panelo pointed out, however, that “the principle of immutability of final court decisions or rulings may not be used as a shield to perpetuate illegality.”

He cited the case of fraud which “can never stop the government from enforcing the law in the interest of protecting the people.”

“Verily, it is Senator Trillanes himself who continues to violate the very definition and concept of an amnesty and seeks to subvert it,” Panelo said.

“As the government prosecutes the criminal charges against Senator Trillanes through proper legal channels, it will continue to respect the independence of the Judiciary in deciding his cases, as well as afford him his constitutional right to due process,” he added.