THE Davao Regional Court Branch 54 on Tuesday, January 15, denied the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue a hold departure order against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for his libel case filed by presidential son Paolo Duterte.
The Davao court rejected the motion after the opposition senator attended the arraignment and pleaded not guilty on the case filed by the former Davao City vice mayor and his brother-in-law Manases “Mans” Carpio.
“Nag-plea ako ng not guilty sa apat. Mga harassment cases lang ito talaga just to inconvenience me, para ma-distract ako (I plead not guilty on all four counts. These are all just harassment cases to inconvenience me, to distract me),” Trillanes said as reported by CNN Philippines.
Duterte and Carpio filed the libel charges against Trillanes after he accused them during a 2017 interview in Cebu City of extorting money from the ride-hailing firm Uber.
“All the incredible lies Mr. Trillanes has invented to destroy me and my family are finally catching up with him. We all know that Trillanes is a pathological liar and today marks the beginning of our search for the truth and justice,” the former vice mayor said as reported by The Philippine Star.
Despite the junked hold departure plea, the court ordered Trillanes to stay in the Philippines from January 27 to February 10. The senator was also asked to present his itinerary and trip details.
Although Trillanes was declared persona non grata for describing the city as “the most dangerous city in the Philippines,” the senator still arrived at 5:40 am in the city, boarding a Philippine Airlines flight, to personally post a P24,000 bail for each count of libel.
The senator said that he was “surprised” that the people in the hometown of the presidential family welcomed him warmly. However, he noted that declaring him as persona non grata was nothing more than a political move.
“It was a political move of the Davao City council, the persona non grata (declaration), but I am glad of the warm welcome I received here in this city. The world turns. Time will come when challenges confront them. They should be ready also,” Trillanes said.
However, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo believed that the senator’s retort only proved to be false confidence. He claimed that such statements coming from Trillanes are a facade to hide the fact that the senator is afraid to serve jail time.
But Malacañang claimed Trillanes was afraid to return to jail and was only making it appear that he was ready to face the charges against him.
“Trillanes said I’m here to face the challenge, meaning he could have chosen not to go there. He was making it appear that he was there to accept the challenge. My response to him is: you have no choice. If you did not go (to Davao City), you would be arrested immediately,” Panelo said.
“The problem with this guy is, he pompously claims to be unafraid of the criminal charges against him and yet his body language, his rantings against the president show the opposite. He is in mortal fear of going back to jail,” he added.