Trillanes stays in jail

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Antonio Trillanes, in jail on rebellion charges, is likely to stay inside his detention cell after the Makati Regional Trial Court denied his plea to be released to attend Senate sessions and other related functions.

Judge Oscar Pimentel of RTC Branch 148 also rejected Trillanes’ request to set up a working area at the Philippine Marine Brig or detention cell, grant interviews to media, and receive the press on Tuesdays and Fridays.

In the Senate, opposition Senator Panfilo Lacson said the legislative body should stop passing resolutions to allow Trillanes to attend its sessions because that would put it in direct confrontation with the courts.

He said what the Senate could do was intervene as an interested party in case Trillanes petitioned the Supreme Court to rule on his case.

“I’m willing to sign [such] a petition [in intervention] and be one of the petitioners,” Lacson said. “After all, we are a party in interest because [Trillanes] is a member of the Senate.”

Pimentel said the court was not “persuaded” by the reasons that Trillanes had cited to allow him to attend Senate sessions.

“For lack of merit, all the requests of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV are hereby denied,” Pimentel said.

“Allowing accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee hearings five days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position,” Pimentel said.

“Such an aberrant situation not only elevates the accused-appellant status to that of a special class, it would also be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system,” he said citing a Supreme Court ruling.

Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon had opposed Trillanes’ requests, citing the need to maintain the military’s apolitical nature.

“We cannot allow a political office to be established inside a military installation or detention facility as a measure to insulate the organization and its members from political partisanships,” Esperon said in a letter to the court on July 19.

Trillanes and 30 other junior military officers have been charged with rebellion for their July 27, 2003 mutiny at the Oakwood Premier Hotel, where they demanded reforms in the military and in the national government.