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Flowers outside courtroom for Trillanes hearing irk justice secretary

MANILA – People who sent flowers outside the courtroom of the Makati regional trial court branch hearing the coup d’état charge against Sen. Antonio Trillanes could be held in contempt as it is a clear case of trying to influence the judge, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.

Judge Andres Soriano of Branch 148 is expected to release a ruling anytime soon on the Department of Justice’s motion for the issuance of arrest warrant and hold departure order in connection with the coup d’etat case filed against Trillanes in connection with the Oakwood mutiny in 2003.

Several bouquets of flowers were sighted outside Soriano’s courtroom with tags bearing words like “rule of law,” “truth,” “fairness,” “hope” and “legacy.”

“That’s exactly the kind of pressure that has been exerted upon Judge Soriano,” Guevarra said in a text message in reaction to the flowers.

“Some people have made it appear that any ruling against Senator
Trillanes will be a deathblow to democracy and the rule of law. 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,” he added.

Guevarra on Saturday rejected allegations by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, also an Oakwood mutineer like Trillanes, that Soriano is under “intense” pressure to grant the DOJ’s petition and rule against senator.

“The DOJ does not interact with the judge except through the pleadings filed and arguments raised in open court. Rep. Alejano’s allegations tend to impede the orderly administration of justice, unfairly cast aspersion on the integrity and professionalism of the Department of Justice and its state prosecutors, and contumaciously influence Judge Soriano’s decision-making process,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew Trillanes’ amnesty due to his alleged failure to apply for it properly and express guilt for his crime.

The senator, known to be critical of the present administration, is facing a separate rebellion case over his 2007 Manila Peninsula siege against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Makati RTC Branch 150 ordered his arrest last month over the rebellion charge, but was immediately released after posting bail.