Junjun Binay: Trillanes cannot invoke immunity to escape libel case
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV cannot invoke parliamentary immunity to escape prosecution from libel when he accused Court of Appeals Justices of receiving bribe money for a favorable ruling, suspended Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay said.
Binay’s reply-affidavit, which he personally subscribed Thursday, said that the very Constitution invoked by Trillanes covers only speeches or debates in Congress or in any committee only.
“Hence, when Respondent [Trillanes] maliciously accused me of bribing the Justices of the Court of Appeals on 7 April 2015 before the different media outfits, he cannot be granted immunity considering that he made the same outside of any congressional or committee deliberations,” Binay said.
Trillanes, in his counter-affidavit, invoked parliamentary immunity under Section 11, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that no senator shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in Congress or in any committee hearing.
But Binay said Trillanes was “grossly mistaken” for invoking such immunity because its privilege applies only when necessary to prevent indirect impairment of deliberations being made in Congress.
“Clearly, when Respondent authored, mouthed, disseminated and distributed his lies to the media and the public outside the session halls of the Senate, he shed any pretense of acting in the official discharge of his duties. It is a fact that his lies were not addressed to colleagues in the Senate for any legislative duty but only to the media for the sole purpose of blackening my name and reputation, with the end in view of derailing my father’s Presidential bid,” he added.
Binay said that the Senator cannot also invoke free speech “if the purpose is to promote a lie.”
Binay pointed out that to date, Trillanes has not presented any proof or evidence that he indeed bribed the Court of Appeals justices to secure a restraining order against the first preventive suspension order imposed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Binay added that the Senator himself admitted in one of his interviews with the media that he has no basis for the bribery allegation.
He quoted Trillanes as saying “…eh mayroon tayong information. Again, tatanungin ba ako kung mayroon akong basis. Hindi. Kasi sabi ko nga, sa aming mga military, ‘yung intelligence, ano ‘yan, an information that can be used for decision-making diba? (…we have information. Again, would I be asked if I had a basis. No. Because, like I said, in the military, intelligence is information that can be used for decision-making, right?)”
“The subject statement was made recklessly, without any regard whether it is true or not,” Binay said.
Binay’s lawyers led by Claro Certeza further argued that the senator’s parliamentary immunity “cannot be extended to cover illegal acts.”
“Undoubtedly, Respondent did not make the imputation of bribery out of a sincere desire to perform a legal, moral or social duty. His intention was to vilify my father and me so that the former will not win in the next elections,” he stressed.
“Respondent’s ill motivation is also made apparent by his choice of recipients of his so-called bribery report. As advised by my counsel, the law requires that for a defamatory imputation made out of a legal, moral or social duty to be privileged, such statement must be communicated only to the person or persons who have some interest or duty in the matter alleged, and who have the power to furnish the protection sought by the author of the statement,” the mayor added.
Binay filed the libel case after Trillanes accused him of paying P25 million to Court of Appeals 6th division to stop the implementation of the suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman regarding his alleged involvement in the overpriced Makati Parking Building.
In his complaint, Binay said Trillanes, in an interview aired last April 7 over several radio and television programs, and in an article published in the April 8 issue of a newspaper, publicly claimed that members of the 6th Division of the Court of Appeals were given bribes in millions of pesos in exchange for the favorable action on the petitions for a temporary restraining order and the writ of preliminary injunction.
Binay said Trillanes was also quoted as saying that he and his family were “part of a syndicate” that has committed various crimes and irregularities.
He pointed out that Trillanes himself had admitted during the interview that he had no valid proof or factual basis for his pronouncements.
The mayor said the acts of Trillanes in connection with the defamatory statements made against him constitute a violation of Article 355 in relation to Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code. Tetch Torres-Tupas, INQUIRER.net/CDG
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