Trillanes gets 4 warrants of arrest
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Sunday confirmed that it had received not just one but four warrants of arrest against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV issued by Judge Melinda Alconcel-Dayanghirang of the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 54 on Dec. 7.
But NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar assured the public that his men would not arrest Trillanes even with the arrest warrant for libel charges filed by the President’s son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, after the senator linked him to illegal drug smuggling.
Immunity from arrest
Eleazar said the NCRPO would abide by the senator’s constitutional privilege that granted him immunity from arrest for offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment while Congress was in session.
One of Trillanes’ lawyers, former University of the Philippines law dean Pacifico Agabin, said the senator enjoyed immunity from arrest while Congress was in session under the 1987 Constitution.
In a radio interview, Agabin, who serves as counsel to Trillanes in his Supreme Court cases but not for the libel charges, initially said that any individual could be arrested on the strength of a warrant issued by the courts.
But when reminded that Congress was in the middle of session, Agabin said the senator could not be arrested.
“Is there a session of Congress now? Yes, I forgot there is session now, so he can’t be arrested,” Agabin said.
In the interview, he suggested there was an element of political harassment in the cases Trillanes was facing.
Expected to post bail
“We are concerned because he is a public officer and it is a duty of every public officer to expose corruption in the government. So with this libel case, he [is] just doing his duty as a senator to expose what he perceives to be a form or corruption,” he said.
Trillanes is expected to post bail on Monday after refusing over the weekend to yield to authorities serving a warrant for his arrest.
The judge set bail at P24,000 for each libel case—or P96,000 total—for Trillanes’ temporary freedom.
Eleazar, however, said the NCRPO would still be coordinating with the Senate sergeant at arms in case Trillanes opted to turn himself in.
“If the senator wishes to turn himself to us, then we will get him from the Senate,” he said.
The NCRPO chief also noted of the possibility that the judge would ask the senator for a certificate of detention, a requirement to post bail, which would be issued by the police.
Trillanes said he was ready to face the charges but he wished to defend his rights as a respondent.
But he denounced the warrant of arrest as another attempt to silence him as one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s harshest critics. —Reports from Dexter Cabalza and DJ Yap
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