Court denies Trillanes’ plea to stop reopened rebellion case

Lawyers on Monday, March 18, blocked Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s motion for partial reconsideration before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office on his sedition case over his alleged provoking comments in 2018.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Jacinto “Jing” Paras, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Manuelito Luna; lawyers Nasser Marohomsalic, Eligio Mallari and Alvaro Bernabe Lazaro were among the complainants.

The group noted that the statement issued by the senator against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on September 5, 2018, cannot be perceived as acceptable despite his position in the legislation since “he was not performing his official duty” the moment he said it.

“Parliamentary non-accountability cannot be invoked when the lawmaker’s speech or utterance is made outside sessions, hearings or debates in Congress, extraneous to the ‘due functioning of the (legislative) process,” the group explained as reported by ABS-CBN News.

The lawyers’ group emphasized that Trillanes’ comments were “not absolutely privileged” because it was done outside the senator’s legislative function “as a member of Congress or an officer of any Committee.”

“To participate in or respond to media interviews is not an official function of any lawmaker; it is not demanded by his sworn duty nor is it a component of the process of enacting laws,” the group added.

The complainants believed that the former mutineer’s criticisms towards Duterte went as far as calling the Chief Executive a “dictator.” They also emphasized that Trillanes perceived the alleged state-sponsored killings as a common occurrence in the country.

They also accused the senator of urging the armed forces and law enforcement not to do anything illegal and unconstitutional. They cited the former navy officer’s uprisings in 2003 and 2007.

They hinted the possibility that Trillanes could be secretly proposing to the armed forces to launch a coup against the President. However, the group was not able to issue pieces of evidence to back this claim.

Trillanes’ camp maintained that the statements he issued were protected by his parliamentary immunity. He believed that such complaints were done by those loyal to Duterte in order to threaten and harass the leader’s staunch critic.

In a 66-page petition filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) requesting an injunction or a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the sedition case, the senator believed that the complaint charged against him is baseless.

“Petitioner is being needlessly and unduly exposed to the hardship and difficulties not to mention the physical and psychological rigors as well as the anxiety and great expenses involved in a baseless, extended and public trial,” Trillanes said as reported by Rappler.

The trial for the sedition was scheduled last Wednesday, March 20 at the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150.

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