By Rey Panaligan
Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said Saturday (January 12) the re-opening of the rebellion case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV before the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) does not violate his right against double jeopardy.
Double jeopardy is “the constitutional right of an accused in a criminal case against being prosecuted for the same offense for which he has been either previously acquitted or convicted.”
Last week, Branch 150 of the Makati City RTC denied the appeal of Trillanes to dismiss the rebellion case filed against him in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula Hotel siege.
This means that Trillanes will stand trial on the rebellion case that was, in effect, revived by President Duterte last year through Proclamation No. 572 which voided the senator’s amnesty.
Only the Court of Appeals (CA) or the Supreme Court (SC) can stop the trial.
Calida, in a statement, refuted the pronouncement of Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Abdiel Fajardo that the revival of the rebellion case against Trillanes smacks of double jeopardy.
Fajardo said the IBP “stand by our opinion that the earlier dismissal of the criminal charges versus Senator Trillanes on the ground of amnesty has long become final and executory, and they may no longer be revived or reopened without violating the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy.”
Calida, head of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which is the law firm of the government, said “Atty. Fajardo should know there is no double jeopardy in this case.”
For double jeopardy to exist in the re-opening of the rebellion case against Trillanes “a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; the first jeopardy must have been validly terminated; and the second jeopardy must be for the same offense as that in the first.”
At the same time, he said legal jeopardy attaches only “upon a valid indictment before a competent court, after the accused has been arraigned, the accused having entered a valid plea, and the case was dismissed or terminated without the express consent of the accused.”
“In the case of Trillanes, the last element for legal jeopardy to attach is obviously lacking. The rebellion case was dismissed by the RTC Makati Branch 150 in 2011 because Trillanes himself filed a Motion to Dismiss. Obviously, by filing the motion, he categorically demonstrated that the dismissal of the case against him was with his express consent,” Calida said.
“No legal jeopardy attached to the first dismissal of the case against him. Hence, the reopening of the case is proper,” he added.
At the same time, Calida said the dismissal of the rebellion case against Trillanes in 2011 was on the basis of the amnesty given him.
But since the amnesty was revoked and declared void by President Duterte through Proclamation No. 572, “it has no legal effect and it cannot prevent the Makati RTC from proceeding with the case, he said.
Trillanes has challenged the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 572 before the SC.
In his comment, the filing of which was required by the SC, Calida said the proclamation is valid as it correctly voided the amnesty grant under Proclamation No. 75 which was issued in violation of the Constitution.
Calida said that under Section 19, Article VII of the Constitution, only the President may grant amnesty. He pointed out that Trillanes’ amnesty was void from the beginning since it was signed by former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and not by former President Benigno S. Aquino III.