Trillanes et al asks for dismissal of rebellion charge
Statement issued by Atty. Ernesto Francisco on his filing of Motion for Reconsideration in the Manila Pen Rebellion Case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes and 16 other officers and enlisted men ( Capt. Gary C. Alejano, Ltsg. James Layug, Ltsg. Manuel G. Cabochan, Ltsg. Eugene P. Gonzalez, 2Lt. Jonnel P. Sanggalang, Ltsg. Andy G. Torrato, Ltjr. Arturo S. Pascua, Jr., Ens. Armand Pontejos, Capt. Segundino P. Orfiano, Jr., 1Lt. Billy S. Pascua, CPL. Clecarte D. Dahan, PFC. Juanito S. Jilbury, PFC. Emmanuel C. Tirador, PFC. German M. Linde, Julius J. Mesa and Cesari Yasser Gonzalez).
Atty. Francisco is handling the Nov. 29 Manila Pen rebellion case for Trillanes et al.
Today, 28 December 2007, Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes, IV and sixteen (16) other military and former military men who are accused of rebellion before the sala of Judge Elmo M. Alameda of RTC-Makati City, Branch 150, through counsel, will file a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated 13 December 2007 finding probable cause for the issuance of a commitment order against them.
In their Motion for Reconsideration, Sen. Trillanes and his co-accused will seek the dismissal of the rebellion charge against them on the following grounds:
1. Even assuming that they did walk out of the hearing of their criminal case before Judge Oscar B. Pimentel, and thereafter, march along the streets of Makati City going towards the Manila Pen, and thereat, hold a press conference where the administration was denounced, these acts do not constitute the crime of rebellion.
2. If at all, such acts were but legitimate exercise of the people’s right to peaceably assemble and seek redress for grievances and to free speech.
3. Based on Supreme Court decisions, it cannot be said that the crime of rebellion was committed on the occasion of the Manila Pen incident. The Manila Pen incident did not involve any “armed public uprising,” or “masses or multitudes involving crowd action,” or “a vast movement of men” or “a complex net of intrigue and plots,” or “a civil war on a bigger or lesser scale,” or “an armed public uprising by a substantial number of rebels.” Even Judge Alameda, in his Order stated that “(t)he gravemen of the crime of rebellion is an armed public uprising against the government. By its very nature, rebellion is essentially a crime of masses or multitude involving crowd action with political motive.”
4. In the Manila Pen incident, not a single gunshot was fired by any one of the eighteen (18) accused military and former military men and civilians who were alleged to have staged a rebellion inside the Manila Pen(!). Also, not one of the eighteen (18) accused military and former military men or thirty (30) civilians who were trapped inside the Manila Pen used force or firearms on any one.
5. Almost all of the eighteen (18) accused military and former military men were not armed, including their supposed leaders, accused Senator Antonio F. Trillanes, IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo P. Lim. Even assuming that a few of the military men had firearms and it was alleged that four (4) rifles and one (1) pistol were recovered at the scene, not one of them used, much less fired, his firearm. Mere possession of firearms by a handful of military men marching in the streets or joining a press conference inside a five (5)-star hotel is certainly not rebellion.
6. There was no crime being committed inside the Manila Pen, much less the crime of rebellion, and the government knew that fact. Otherwise, if the crime of rebellion or any other crime was in fact being committed by those inside the Manila Pen, the police could have just proceeded inside and effected warrantless arrests and they did not need to first secure a warrant of arrest from Judge Pimentel purportedly to effect the arrest of the fourteen (14) detention prisoners who walked out of their hearing.
7. No less than Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, in an interview aired by ANC just a few minutes before the assault started at 4:30 o’clock in the afternoon, categorically stated that the police and military forces were at the Manila Pen to serve the said warrant issued by Judge Pimentel.
8. The police forces were supposed to enter the Manila Pen to serve the warrant of arrest on the fourteen (14) detention prisoners. Yet, what they did was to launch a massive, excessive and unnecessary police and military assault on the military and civilians alike who were trapped inside the hotel.
9. Worse, after the police and military forces launched an assault on and entered the Manila Pen purportedly to serve the warrant of arrest on the fourteen (14) detention prisoners, they effected an illegal warrantless arrest for the non-existent crime of rebellion against them and the civilians and members of the mass media who were trapped inside the hotel.
10. The mass illegal arrest which took place at the Manila Pen was not a case of a warrantless arrest under the Rules of Court. It follows, therefore, that all of those who were arrested and detained were illegally arrested and arbitrarily detained.
11. The Inquest conducted by the DOJ Panel was void. There are no complaint-affidavit and sworn statements of the complainant and his witnesses on record in violation of DOJ Department Circular No. 61 (New Rules on Inquest) aforequoted. Moreover, the police officers who executed the “Joint Affidavits of Arrest” were actually not the arresting officers. Rather, they were the investigators from the PNP-NCR Criminal Investigation & Detection Unit. The arresting officers who should have executed the required affidavits of arrest were the elements of the PNP Special Action Force and PN-Marines who conducted the assault.
12. The police investigators who executed the “Joint Affidavits of Arrest” despite the fact that they were not the arresting officers, clearly committed falsification of public documents, false testimony and perjury, and other crimes. Also, any subsequent use of the said falsified “Joint Affidavits of Arrest” will make the one using the same liable for introducing in evidence falsified documents or offering in evidence a false witness or testimony and other crimes.
13. Since the Inquest that was conducted by the DOJ Panel was void, it follows that the Information filed as a result of said invalid inquest, is also void.
14. It is clear that the administration’s line notwithstanding, the Manila Pen incident was no rebellion. Otherwise, this may be the first time in the history not only of the Philippines but of the entire world that eighteen (18) military and former military men, only four or five of them allegedly armed, staged a rebellion inside a five (5)-star hotel right in the heart of the country’s financial district. This will also be the first time in the history of the Philippines and the entire world that so-called “rebels” staged a rebellion with not a single gunshot fired.
15. The conclusions of the Honorable Court which served as basis for the finding of probable cause against the accused military and former military men are not supported by the evidence on record.
a) Even assuming that most of the accused military and former military men, almost all of whom were detention prisoners, did walk out of the hearing before Judge Pimentel, such a walkout did not constitute rebellion. The walkout of detention prisoners from a hearing of their case is definitely not rebellion;
b) When Judge Pimentel cited and found those who walked out guilty of direct contempt and sentenced them to ten (10) days imprisonment, to his mind, such walkout was merely a contumacious conduct constitutive of direct contempt and, to be sure, far from an act of rebellion;
c) The act of the accused military and former military men of marching along the streets of Makati City does not constitute rebellion. Such act of marching is no different from the usual protest rally or march along the streets which is an almost everyday occurrence in Metro Manila. In those street protest rallies or marches, not one has been charged with rebellion;
d) The prosecution’s video footages show that it was business as usual inside the Manila Pen even after the accused had gone inside. Accordingly, guests were having lunch as usual. Even Dir. Geary Barias, PNP-NCR Regional Director, when he first came in, was shaking hands, laughing and joking with those inside and making “beso-beso” with the ladies. The atmosphere only changed much later in the afternoon when the government started threatening to launch an attack and, in fact, started shooting towards the hotel purportedly to scare away imagined snipers;
e) The alleged setting up of a “command center” at the second floor of the Manila Pen was a just a figment of the imagination of the police investigators. The prosecution’s own video footages will show that there was no such “command center” at the second floor of the hotel. If at all, the reference to a so-called “command center” at the second floor of the Manila Pen is but part of the effort to prop up the government’s theory that the incident that took place on 29 November 2007 was an act of rebellion. Besides, absent any so-called “command center” inside the hotel, how could the government justify its massive use of police and military forces to launch an assault on a five (5)-star hotel in the heart of Makati City, including the use of not less than three (3) Armored Personnel Carriers and indiscriminate firing of a machine gun into the lobby of the said hotel;?
f) Even assuming that the accused did call a press conference wherein they announced their intention to overthrow the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that was not rebellion under Supreme Court decisions; and,
g) The Court’s finding that no probable cause exists with respect to the civilians are also applicable to the accused military and former military men. The court failed to make clear distinctions between the civilians, on the one hand, and the military and former military men, on the other, as would justify the finding of lack of probable cause for the crime of rebellion with respect to the civilians, on the one hand, and the finding of probable cause for the said crime and the issuance of a Commitment Order with respect to the accused military and former military men, on the other.
Click here to read Trillanes motion for reconsideration.