By William Casis i FilAm Star Correspondent
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed before a Pasay court PHP 96,000 bail bond for his temporary liberty over a libel case filed by former Davao City Vice-mayor Paolo Duterte.
The Senator is bound to leave the country for the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom from December 11 to January 12 next year and the US from January 27 to February 10 to meet different groups and attend various activities as part of his official duties.
Davao City RTC Branch 54 Judge Melinda Alconcel-Dayanghirang issued four warrants last December 7 to arrest the Senator.
The judge set bail at PHP 24,000 for each libel case — or a total of PHP 96,000 — for Trillanes’ temporary liberty.
Trillanes earlier said he was going to turn himself in to authorities but decided to post bail on December 10.
The Senator also argued that under the 1987 Constitution he was immune from arrest for offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment while Congress is in session.
Trillanes also denounced the warrants of arrest as another attempt to silence him as one of Duterte’s critics.
The presidential son filed a libel case against Trillanes after the opposition Senator accused him of corruption.
Trillanes, in 2017, claimed the younger Duterte and brother-in-law Manases Carpio were involved in a scheme to extort money from ride-hailing firms.
In an affidavit, the younger Duterte accused Trillanes of libel after the latter accused him of corruption and extortion involving ride-hailing services, the Road Board and the Department of Public Works and Highways, in a radio interview with DYAB Cebu’s Leo Lastimosa last September 8, 2017.
According to Duterte, Carpio showed him a video of Trillanes’ radio interview on September 2017.
“Watching it, I was aghast to hear the respondent maliciously accusing me and my brother-in-law, Atty. Manases Carpio, of supposed rampant and widespread corruption and extortion. Admittedly, this was based only from information fed to him but he did not identify nor disclose (the source),” he said in his affidavit.
Meanwhile, while Congress is in session, Trillanes cannot be arrested even if a court has issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the libel case against him.
Under the Constitution, Trillanes “cannot be arrested” until the Congress session is adjourned, said former Dean of the UP College of Law Pacifico Agabin, one of the lawyers of the lawmaker.
Under Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution, “A senator or a member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session,” it reads.
“No Member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof,” it added.
Agabin said the libel case, filed by Duterte over the Senator’s claims linking the younger Duterte to drug-smuggling, is connected to Trillanes’ job — exposing corruption, among others.
“He is a public officer. It is the duty of every public officer to expose corruption in the government. Kaya dito sa libel case niya. E palagay ko, he was just doing his duty as a senator,” Agabin said.