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Aug 23rd
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Opposition Deplores Court Ruling on Senator Trillanes’ Petition
Opposition Deplores Court Ruling on Senator Trillanes’ Petition PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Monday, 30 June 2008 14:59

The minority bloc in the Senate today deplored the ruling of the Supreme Court that rejected Senator Antonio Trillanes’ petition to allow him to perform his legislative functions, acknowledging that his continued absence in the Upper Chamber is a big minus factor to the opposition.


Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said that many of his legislative colleagues are saddened by the adverse verdict because Trillanes was voted into office by about 11 million Filipinos and he should be entitled to presumption of innocence as a person accused of a political offense before conviction.


“Over and above these considerations is the fact that he has not yet been convicted. Under our Constitution, he is entitled to presumption of innocence,” Senator Pimentel said.


The Supreme Court denied Trillanes’ petition by arguing that although he is not yet a convicted prisoner, the fact that he is charged with a non-bailable offense makes his “rights are more limited than those of the public.”


Senator Trillanes had asked the SC to overturn the ruling of a Makati Regional Trial Court, issued in July 2007 to attend Senate sessions and hearings, to have an office in his detention cell at the Marine Brigade headquarters in Fort Bonifacio and to receive members of his staff in his detention office.


Saying that he should enjoy civil-and-political rights as a citizen who has not yet been convicted, Mr. Trillanes, who placed 11th in the 2007 senatorial race, stressed that to deny his requests would be tantamount to disenfranchising the millions of voters who had elected him.


On the claim that Senator Trillanes is a flight risk, Mr. Pimentel said when he walked out of the Makati Hall of Justice during a court trial, and marched to the Manila Peninsula Hotel on Nov. 29, 2007, it was meant to be a protest over the very slow progress in the case against him.


If Mr. Trillanes had intended to escape, Senator Pimentel said he should have run away and gone into hiding.


On the high tribunal’s comment that Senator Trillanes did not mention anyone in the Senate willing to guarantee that he would not escape, Mr. Pimentel said the truth is he and other opposition senators were ready to take on that role had the request been made by the ex-navy lieutenant.


“I fully believe that Senator Trillanes would not try to escape and evade the court case against him before the court.


Mr. Pimentel brushed aside the argument that the functions of the opposition will not be affected at all by the absence of Senator Trillanes because there are seven other opposition members to do the job of checking the actuations of the administration and the party in power.


“The argument says that since there are 24 senators, if one is eased out, that is okay. I disagree with that. The collective judgment of 24 senators is diminished even if only one seat is made unnecessarily vacant,” Senator Pimentel said.


He said the failure of Senator Trillanes to assume office impairs the capability of the opposition to discharge its role. # # #


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Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2008 15:05

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