Already with several legal woes, Trillanes likely to face another one

October 1, 2018 - 2:48 PM
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Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV
Senator Antonio Trillanes smiles as he talks to the media in his office at the Senate in Pasay City, Metro Manila, in Philippines, September 7, 2018. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

The recent cases seeking to invalidate Antonio Trillanes IV’s amnesty and force him back to jail may not be the only ones he has to face.

Trillanes, the beleaguered opposition senator, may soon deal with another batch of complaints to be filed by allies of the administration.

Trillanes is, in fact, already scratching his head over libel charges of presidential son Paolo Duterte and son-in-law Manases Carpio and a grave threat case lodged against him by Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras, a member of the Duterte-allied Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

Cases earlier this year

In June, Paras accused Trillanes of threatening him during a Senate hearing, violating Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code on Grave Threats.

According to the cited provision, grave threats involve wishing for “the infliction upon the person, honor or property of the latter or of his family of any wrong amounting to a crime.” Trillanes, however, is supposed to be bound to a immunity in the conduct of legislative inquiries.

Paras claimed that Trillanes told him: “Ang lakas ng loob mo. Hindi magtatagal ang amo mo. Matatapos din ‘yan. Yayariin kita. Mercenaryo ka. Yayariin kita.”

Moreover, Trillanes was also indicted last March for a sedition suit that Paras filed at the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court over his pronouncements on Duterte’s supposed hidden wealth.

Just this month

This September, the younger Duterte and Carpio, the first gentleman of Davao City, filed separate libel counts before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Davao City over Trillanes’ claims that they had extorted money from ride-hailing companies in 2017.

Carpio is the husband of now-Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Two weeks later, Paolo filed another libel case against Trillanes after the senator tagged him in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs from China and announced it to the public in media interviews.

For Trillanes, these complaints gave him the opportunity to further probe into Paolo’s bank accounts.

“It would also be an opportunity for me to have his bank accounts subpoenaed,” Duterte’s fierce critic said.

Trillanes also believed these were filed just to lure him out of the Senate building, where he had been holed up since President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the amnesty granted to him seven years ago.

Rebellion cases: The latest but possibly not the last

The rebellion cases against the former rebel soldier stemmed from the two coup d’etat activities he staged against then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The first one was in 2003 at the Oakwood Hotel, which is now the Ascott hotel within the Ayala Center in Makati, and the second in 2007 at the Manila Peninsula hotel, also in Makati.

Former President Benigno Aquino wished away these charges, which were non-bailable, through an amnesty grant in 2011 to all the mutineers involved int the coup attempts.

However, Duterte’s Proclamation 572 tried to void amnesty rights and revived the decades-old cases to be tried at the respective courts.

On September 24, the opposition senator was arrested, and then posted bail worth P200,000 at the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150.

Makati City RTC Branch 148 has yet to issue an arrest warrant.

Calida issues a threat

When it was revealed that Solicitor General Jose Calida was behind the search for the amnesty records, Trillanes then accused the government’s top lawyer of stealing the documents for himself.

The missing document, Trillanes’ amnesty application form, became the basis of Proclamation 572 which revoked the staunch critic’s rights from the beginning.

Calida immediately clapped back with a threat of a criminal and libel suit against “the putschist” (Trillanes) unless he expresses “sincere apology” for the insult.

It was the AFP custodian who issued the certification that Trillanes’ amnesty application form did not exist, argued Calida, who in turn threatened the senator that more cases coming from the solicitor general’s office are being readied against him.

“Unless Mr. Trillanes expresses his sincere apology for calling me a thief, I shall be constrained to file a criminal case for libel plus damages against him,” the solicitor-general said.

Trillanes is represented by top veteran lawyers including a former solicitor general and a law school dean.