Press Release
October 23, 2018

Drilon: SC bound by factual findings of Makati RTC on Trillanes

Former Justice Secretary and current Senate Minority leader Franklin M. Drilon said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court can no longer disturb the factual findings by the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148 on the case of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, citing the jurisprudence that the "Supreme Court is not a trier of facts."

"Well-settled is the rule that the Supreme Court is not a trier of fact. The Supreme Court cannot assume the role of trier of facts which, by law and jurisprudence, belongs to the lower courts," Drilon said.

The case of Sen. Trillanes is undeniably a question of fact, Drilon emphasized.

"Factual findings of the lower courts are entitled to great weight and respect on appeal, and in fact accorded finality when supported by substantial evidence on the record, as stated in the case of Xentrex Motors, Inc. v. Court of Appeals (353 Phil. 258, 262 1998) and in a long line of other cases," the former justice secretary said.

In the case of Senator Trillanes, he said, the lower court has affirmed the fact that Trillanes validly complied with the requirements for his amnesty application.

"I do not see how this finding can be disturbed by the Supreme Court especially considering that the original decision of Makati RTC Branch 148 attained finality seven years ago," Drilon stressed.

It is a well-entrenched ruling that factual findings of the lower courts are given the highest degree of respect and great weight by appellate tribunals because they are in a better position to examine the real evidence and observe the demeanor of witnesses.

It is clear from Judge Soriano's decision that he carefully considered the testimonies of the witnesses, taking pains to detail the significant portions of their statements which led the Judge to his decision.

Hence, Drilon believes the Supreme Court will be hard-pressed to overturn the ruling of Makati RTC Branch 148.

"Any petition or appeal must then fail," said Drilon.

Earlier, Drilon hailed the Makati RTC Branch 148's decision dismissing the administration's case against Trillanes, saying "the rule of law has prevailed and will always prevail."

"I am relieved by the decision of RTC Judge Andres Soriano rejecting the attempts of the administration to harass opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes," Drilon said.

"Soriano's decision reinforces our belief that at the end of the day the rule of law will prevail and no amount of underhanded legal maneuvering will be rewarded by an independent judiciary. The resolution of this case will definitely help restore the perception of stability in our courts," Drilon said.

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