2 battalions will secure today’s Trillanes mutiny hearing

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — INVESTIGATORS yesterday presented the “mystery van” that was seized from the wife of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Dec. 8 inside police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Edgardo Doromal said the van was used during Trillanes’ takeover of The Peninsula, Manila, hotel on Nov. 29.

“The van was seen carrying high-powered firearms, which were distributed to camouflage uniformed men who occupied the Peninsula hotel,” Doromal told reporters at a press conference in front of the seized van.

Meanwhile, two battalions of soldiers will be deployed at the Makati City Hall today to augment some 260 policemen who will provide security to the Magdalo soldiers as their rebellion trial resumes.

The black Starex van (ZBU-594), which sports a Senate sticker on its windshield, was seen in the footages submitted by various television networks. Six people also said they saw firearms being distributed to Trillanes’ supporters.

“It was also used as street sweeper while Senator Trillanes and his group were marching from the Makati City court to the hotel. Later, men in camouflage were seen getting their firearms from the van,” Doromal said.

The van was seized from Arlene Trillanes around 2 p.m. on Dec. 8 while inside Camp Crame. The senator’s wife, accompanied by four children, did not resist.

Doromal said the van was first seen abandoned in a parking lot on Gabriela Silang Street, Makati City, after the hotel takeover.

“The recovery of the van will strengthen the theory that the rebellion was planned and not spontaneous as claimed by Senator Trillanes. If it was spontaneous, why were there firearms in the van, which was seen used as a street sweeper?” Doromal said.

He said they were not filing charges against Mrs. Trillanes. “In fact, the occupants of the van, Mrs. Trillanes, her four kids, a nanny, and their driver, Percy Gonzales, were brought to their destination immediately after we took possession of the van,” he said.

The van is now parked within Camp Crame and will be marked as evidence.

Judge Elmo Almeda, who is hearing the case against Trillanes and 35 others, yesterday said he would decide by Thursday or Friday if the trial would proceed.

Earlier, a number of the accused had asked the court to first determine probable cause for the rebellion charges against them.