Gringo absolved of rebellion charges

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE justice department yesterday absolved Senator-elect Gringo Honasan of criminal liability, but reaffirmed the rebellion charges against Lt./SG Antonio Trillanes IV and other members of the so-called Magdalo soldiers who joined the Oakwood mutiny on July 27, 2003.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez recommended the dropping of rebellion charges against Honasan for lack of evidence, and following Honasan’s plea that the justice department reconsider its resolution finding probable cause to indict him as the main architect of the failed mutiny.

“After judicious review of the record, there being an insufficiency of evidence, the petition for review is granted, and the complaint against respondent is dismissed,” Gonzalez said.

“[But the] Charges against co-accused Trillanes [and others] may not be dismissed, there being sufficient evidence that covert acts were committed during the Oakwood mutiny incident,” Gonzalez said.

“The situation of Trillanes is different. He was clearly part and parcel of what happened at Oakwood,” he said.

“It’s all talk,” he said of the testimony against Honasan in an interview later.

“You can say that it’s all hearsay that cannot be substantiated. They are not strong enough to stand scrutiny in court. There was never evidence that he was part of what happened.”

He said his ruling was “final at this point in time, but strictly speaking, I am under the Office of the President, [and] my decisions can still be reviewed by the Office of the President.”

And his decision on Honasan was likely to be perceived to have political undertones.

“Any resolution is always controversial. Some people may like it and some may not, so this kind of a resolution will certainly have political undertones in it. We have to be prepared to defend it on its face,” he said.