Aquino given 2 options on Trillanes case

Posted at 07/22/10 4:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday said she has given President Benigno Aquino III two options on how to deal with the coup d'etat case against detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

In a press conference, de Lima said she submitted her review on the Trillanes case to President Aquino but declined to discuss it with the media without any authority coming from the President.

She said her memo contains 2 options in dealing with the case at this late stage, as well as a recommendation to the President on which option she deemed best to take.

She said the first option means leaving the case untouched and letting the courts decide since it is almost deemed for resolution. "Only thing left is for both prosecution and defense to submit respective memoranda," she said.

She said the other option is to "file something on the part of the prosecution given the elements of the crime and the corresponding evidence."

De Lima said it is the prerogative of the President to direct the justice department to review the case even at this late stage. She added, however, that they respect the judiciary and that whatever the prosecutors file before the court is still subject to the court.

The justice chief said she did not feel any pressure from the President as to how her review should be conducted. Rather, she felt he asked her to review the case so she could enlighten him on the totality of the case.

De Lima said she reviewed the case without special attention or treatment for Trillanes. She said rebellion charges against the detained senator will also be reviewed.

Trillanes, along with 300 junior officers and soldiers, took over the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center (now Ascott Makati) on July 27, 2003 and demanded that President Arroyo and other government leaders step down from office due to corruption. The group later surrendered to authorities less than 24 hours after taking over the apartment tower.

Trillanes has been in jail since 2003 but was still able to win a seat in the Senate during the 2007 election. He has not been allowed to participate in any of the Senate sessions because of security risks.

Aquino earlier ordered de Lima to review the coup d'etat charge against Trillanes since the elements of a coup were not present during the short-lived Oakwood mutiny.

Several senators criticized Aquino for the instruction, saying that it was a form of meddling in a judicial matter. They added that allowing Trillanes to participate in the Senate sessions could be a way to get Trillanes to vote for Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who is Aquino's choice for Senate President.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, meanwhile, proposed to file a bill in the Senate that will grant amnesty to junior officers who participated in the failed 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.