Judges worth emulating
Kudos to Judges Andres Bartolome Soriano of RTC Branch 148 and Elmo Alameda of RTC Branch 150, both of Makati. Against all odds, they stood up to the arguments of the Department of Justice (and, by extension, the President of the Philippines) and insisted on giving Sen. Antonio Trillanes his day in court.
These regional trial court judges have done what their seniors in the judiciary, all the way up to the top, have failed to do. They have shown that justice can look political power in the eye and not blink.
Soriano is a product of Ateneo Law, and Alameda is from the University of the East. Rappler (which Mr. Duterte tried to close down) has a file on them, so if you are interested, Reader, just look them up. They are a far cry from what former president Joseph Estrada called “hoodlums in robes.” Makati should give them a ticker-tape parade.
Kudos, too, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for weighing in on this issue of amnesty revocation and pointing out to the justice secretary something that he apparently did not know: the coup d’etat and rebellion cases had been dismissed as of September 2011. As I said last week, the DOJ based its petition for a warrant of arrest on 2010 data.
There is double jeopardy here, says the IBP. Secondly, how can the Makati RTCs issue a warrant when they already dismissed the cases?
It is still uncertain, at least to yours truly, whether kudos or catcalls should be extended to the AFP and to the PNP, because their earlier (deplorable) actions are inconsistent with their later (laudable) pronouncements. Why? Because their initial knee-jerk reaction after the President’s Proclamation No. 572 was issued was to send military and police contingents to the Senate. They were prepared to arrest Trillanes even without a warrant.
Said the AFP spokesman (translated from Filipino): “What we are following here is the legal mandate; there is a legal document, and we are just following orders.” They were also proud to announce that the detention quarters of Trillanes in Camp Aguinaldo were ready for occupancy.
Later, there were videos of PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde saying that a warrantless arrest was out of the question. And the military has deferred to the civil courts. But it still seems to think that Trillanes is a military man, even though he resigned in 2007 when he ran for the Senate. It has also forgotten that it dropped the coup d’etat and rebellion charges against Trillanes, and his only crime in the court-martial case was not behaving like an officer and a gentleman. The punishment for this crime is dismissal from the service, and he is already out.
Now let’s go to the definite catcalls/boos. There’s a long list of names that deserve them, but here’s a start:
President Rody — for not doing his homework, or not requiring his staff to do theirs. And then insisting that he is right, even when he is completely wrong.
Solicitor General Jose Calida — for putting his principal in this awful spot, and not even being man enough to admit it (his underlings were the ones who went to the AFP to get the certification).
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra — for being such a wimp.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta—for passing the buck to the Makati RTC judges, and hiding behind judicial cognizance of the statements of a man who repeatedly changes his mind.
My last point has to do with amnesty in general. The earliest recorded amnesty was that of Thrasybulus of Athens (388 B.C.). What is significant is that no amnesty granted since that time has been revoked (or declared void ab initio). No wonder our Constitution doesn’t talk about revocation; it is unheard of, and for obvious reasons.
The only exception that I read about occurred in 2001, when an Argentinian judge declared null and void two amnesty laws—the Full Stop Law of 1986 and the Law of Due Obedience of 1987, on the grounds that “they had violated the international obligations Argentina had, particularly inasmuch as the amnesty laws were incompatible with the victims’ right to appropriate damages.”
That’s a different kettle of fish from the childish and baseless reasons given by Proclamation No. 572.
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