NUPL: Appeal period for Trillanes amnesty has lapsed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said it was unlikely that the Makati Regional Trial Court will issue a warrant of arrest for Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV because there is no longer any case against him to speak of.

Sen. Trillanes faces potential arrest after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation Order No. 572 on August 31, voiding the amnesty given to him by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2011. The Department of Justice then filed a petition for an alias warrant against Trillanes before the Makati RTC.

"I'm sure that the court will not issue the warrant. From the facts, it appears that the case has already been dismissed a long time ago," Atty. Cris Yambot of the NUPL said on CNN Philippines' On the Record on Thursday.

She said the case "was not archived but dismissed. The appeal from the losing side has lapsed. Wala nang case to speak of [There is no more case to speak of]."

Yambot also said the government's voiding of Trillanes' amnesty was a shortcut to avoid discussing the issues surrounding his case. She said it's a tactic the government has used in other cases.

"Void ab initio – it's a shortcut. Iniiwasan na i-discuss yung mga actual legal issues on hand. Ginawa ito kay CJ Sereno – void ab initio daw ang kanyang appointment as CJ dahil sa kanyang kakulangan ng papers. Ngayon makikita naman natin, void ab initio yung ICC naman na pagsali ng Pilipinas. So, it's skirting the real issues at hand," she added.

[Translation: Void ab initio it's a shortcut. It's avoiding discussion of the actual legal issues on hand. This was done to CJ Sereno – her appointment as Chief Justice was void ab initio because she lacked papers. Now we see the country's membership to the ICC was void ab initio as well. So, it's skirting the real issues at hand.]

Since Trillanes has already filed a peition with the Supreme Court, Yambot said the high court will be the one most likely to decide on whether amnesty can be voided unilaterally by a president.

Duterte's order said the amnesty granted to Trillanes was void from the start because he did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Program. It said Trillanes never admitted guilt for the coup attempts he took part in more than a decade ago, failed to take an oath and formally apply for amnesty.

Blame does not lie with Trillanes, Yambot said, if the government does not have the Senator's application for amnesty in its records.

"The custodian of the applications are with the government, so sila yung may duty to keep it. Kung nawala nila or na-destroy nila [they have the duty to keep it. If they lose it or destroy it], it's their fault," she said.

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