Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday slammed supporters of opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes for showing contempt of court intended to “pressure” the Makati City judge not to rule against the lawmaker.
Guevarra said he believes that acts by the so-called “concerned citizens” might influence the Makati City judge’s decision on the Department of Justice’s motion for issuance of the warrant of arrest against Trillanes and subsequently proceed with the trial of the coup d’etat charges against the senator.
On Monday morning, a small group of people laid down a dozen flowers in front of Makati City Trial Court Branch 148 and brought cards that say “rule of law,” “judicial independence,” “justice” and “truth,” among others, in front of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148.
Presiding Judge Andres Soriano of Makati City RTC Branch 148 has yet to resolve the DOJ’s motion for Trillanes arrest, in connection with the pending coup d’etat charges against the opposition senator.
“That’s exactly the kind of pressure that has been exerted upon Judge Soriano. Some people have made it appear that any ruling against Senator Trillanes will be a deathblow to democracy and the rule of law,” Guevarra said in a text message.
“Even a first-year law student will tell you that such acts tending to influence the decision of the judge are a clear and punishable case of contempt of court,” the Justice secretary said.
Guevarra earlier denied the allegation made by Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano that the DOJ was pressuring Judge Soriano into ruling against Trillanes.
“The DOJ does not interact with the judge except through the pleadings filed and arguments raised in open court,” Guevarra said.
The DOJ is pursuing criminal cases of coup d’etat and rebellion against Trillanes after President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 572 nullifying the amnesty granted to him by the Aquino administration.
Another Makati judge, Elmo Alameda, ordered Trillanes arrested for a previously dismissed case of rebellion last Sept. 25 but allowed him to post bail pursuant to a 2010 bail grant.
Soriano is handling the coup d’etat case. Coup d’etat, punishable by reclusion perpetua, is a non-bailable offense if the evidence of guilt is strong.