DOJ: More Magdalo men may face arrest

(Photos from The Philippine Star)

There is a possibility that more former mutineers from the Magdalo group, who were granted amnesty by the previous administration, might have their amnesty like Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV revoked.

This was hinted by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday, September 26, when he revealed that a review on the amnesty given to Magdalo soldiers has started.

 According to Guevarra, voiding the amnesty for the other Magdalo members is a possibility he cannot preempt. 

 “That’s the matter being reviewed by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) people — to check whether the other members of the group, the Magdalo group, might have also not complied. So I’m not preempting them, but my understanding is that their cases might be reviewed or opened,” he said on the sidelines of the celebration of the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s 121st anniversary.

 “We cannot take away that risk that they’re found to be deficient or non-compliant with the requirements for amnesty. Then any other person who might not have complied may suffer the same situation as Senator Trillanes,” he added.

 The ongoing review on the amnesty grant for other Magdalo members, Guevarra said, is proof that Trillanes is not being singled out by the government.

 The DOJ chief explained, “We cannot say the government is picking on him, no, and being selective. Just so happened that he’s the most vocal and he’s the leader of the pack, so to speak. So, it was just natural, if not logical, to start with him.”

 Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Office of Civil Defense deputy administrator Nicanor Faeldon — who are currently on the opposing sides of the political spectrum — are among the Magdalo soldiers granted immunity by former president Benigno Aquino III.

The Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150’s decision to issue the arrest warrant and hold departure order on Trillanes was welcomed by Guevarra.

 It was an affirmation of the DOJ’s position that Proclamation No. 572 has reopened the coup d’etat and rebellion cases against Trillanes despite Makati RTC’s earlier dismissal of the case, Guevarra stressed.

“By the very fact that the trial courts accepted the motions and deliberated the motions, that by itself is already a recognition by the court that it continues to have jurisdiction over the subject matter and even over the persons or the accused,” he said.

 Guevarra also said they are expecting Makati RTC Branch 148 to rule on the prosecutors’ motion for issuance of arrest warrant and HDO against Trillanes within the week.

The coup d’etat case, unlike the rebellion case, is non-bailable.

 Military will not rush court martial proceedings

The military will not rush its court martial proceedings against Trillanes in spite of the issuance of an arrest order against him.

 According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would take its time as President Duterte’s revoking of Trillanes’ amnesty is still being challenged before the Supreme Court.

“We will take this one step at a time… Arrest first, then wait for further development,” he said.

 Trillanes posted bail right after the Makati RTC Branch 150 issued an arrest warrant for him on Tuesday, September 25.

 Earlier, AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the military “submits to the majesty of the Supreme Court (SC) and yields to its wisdom.”

 Galvez also said that court martial proceedings would be held in abeyance since the high tribunal is still tackling the petition filed by Trillanes questioning Duterte’s Proclamation 572.

 Chief Presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo, however, said Trillanes should face the music instead of crying political persecution.

 “Trillanes should face the music and dance as Frank Sinatra’s would croon in his song with the same title. He has to stop milking the issue and act pathetically as if he is a victim of injustice,” he said.

 Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, for his part, advised Trillanes to focus on preparing his legal defense instead of playing the “victim card” and “resorting to ad hominem attacks against the president.”

 Roque dismissed claims that Duterte is obsessed with Trillanes who had previously exposed his and his family’s alleged illegally acquired wealth during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“In the first place, the decision was issued by the RTC. It’s the court’s decision to void his amnesty and not the president’s,” he said.

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