Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV pleaded
not guilty of four libel cases filed against him by presidential son Paolo Z. Duterte
and brother-in-law Manases Carpio at the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC)
Branch 54 on Tuesday morning.
Trillanes stated his denial before RTC Branch 54 Judge Melinda Alconcel-Dayanghirang during the arraignment of his cases.
Reporters were not allowed inside the courtroom due to the small space.
In an interview, Trillanes alleged that the charges against him are just harrassment cases by the administration to silence its critics.
“Pero, nandirito ngayon ako sa Davao para harapin ito para ipakita natin na hindi natin tinatakbuhan o tinatalikuran ang mga ganitong hamon (But, I am here in Davao to face the cases to show that I am not running away from challenges like this),” he said.
The senator said his legal team will not seek transfer of trial in Metro Manila courts as a show of respect to the local court.
However, in an earlier report last September, some members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Davao City cried foul on the statement of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV alleging that judges and prosecutors are being influenced by Presidential son Paolo Duterte to hasten the senator’s libel case filed by the latter.
This after Prosecutor Faizal Padate summoned Trillanes to file counter-affiidavit within 10 days. Former IBP Eastern Mindanao governor lawyer Caesar Europa decried Trillanes’ public insinuation that the judges of the city are beholden to the Duterte family and the claim that the libel case against him was purposely filed here because of this.
“Mr. Trillanes should talk to his lawyers before opening his big mouth because venue is directional in criminal cases especially in libel by reason of the provisions of Art.360 of the Revised Penal Code,” Europa said.
Europa said Dabawenyos are very proud of the city’s fair, impartial and independent judiciary. “I call upon the members of the bar in Davao City to defend our judges from this unfair, unjust and undeserved insult to the judicial integrity of Davao City’s judiciary,” he said.
IBP Davao City chapter president lawyer Rogelio Largo said the independence of judges and prosecutors in the city is beyond question since they owed their allegiance to the Constitution.
“Judges and prosecutors in Davao City are impervious to all kinds of pressures,” Largo said.
Former Regional State Prosecutor Antonio Arellano said Trillanes baseless accusation dishonors the persons and integrity of justice officials. “Accusations must always be based on evidence. This is a basic rule of law principle which a Senator worth his post is supposed to know,” Arellano said.
He added Trillanes refusal to comply with lawful orders is at his own peril. The senator should stop talking baseless accusations and face the consequences of his actions.
“He should take responsibility and learn to
man up and stop crying like a brat,” the presidential son said.
Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio filed the case against the Trillanes from his interview at DYAB Cebu teleradyo on September 8, 2017, where the Senator dragged their names on the extortion franchise issue of Uber that they conspired with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 regional director Ahmed Cuison.
The complaint said the senator was not
contented with the Uber issue, he also involved their names on the corrupution
and extortion issue in the Road Board and Department of Public Works and
“Nag-volunteer na nga ako na magpa-arraign ngayon kahit we had the option na hindi magpa-arraign muna to demonstrate that we recognize the authority and jurisdiction of the Davao court (I volunteered now to be arraigned even if we had the option not be arraigned to demonstrate that we recognize the authority and jurisdiction of the Davao court),” he said.
Trillanes said these cases will not make him stop to be a critic of the administration as long as he sees abuses from the government.
The senator said he will come back to the city to face the trial of the libel cases.
On the other hand, Paolo’s legal counsel lawyer Ranier Madrid who represented the presidential son during the proceedings said the camp of Trillanes filed a petition to review the case of Department of Justice (DOJ).
Madrid opined that the court might not grant the petition since he has already been arraigned on the cases.
He said the court also scheduled the mediation of the case on March 14.
Madrid also warned Trillanes that if he will make another accusation against his client, he will not hesitate to file additional libel case.
The cases stemmed from an interview of Trillanes by DYAB Cebu teleradyo on September 8, 2017, wherein the senator dragged the names of the presidential son and Carpio on the extortion franchise issue of Uber alleging that they conspired with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 regional director Ahmed Cuison.
This also included Trillanes’ interview with DZMM and CNN Philippines accusing the presidential son as the drug lord who worked on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment at the Bureau of Customs.