Tirade cost Trillanes P30K
THE COURT of Appeals has found Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV guilty of indirect contempt, fining him P30,000 for his remarks that corruption and bribery existed in the appellate court.
In a 15-page decision dated May 10 but released on Monday, the Court of Appeals’ Former Special Fifth Division ruled that Trillanes’ remarks were not covered by parliamentary immunity since he made them to the press.
“Truly, he was a senator when he made those malicious and baseless imputations against this court and some of its justices. His position, however, does not suffice to exculpate him from liability. Unfortunately, he failed to show that he was in exercise of his official functions when he uttered the same,” the court said in the decision written by Justice Stephen Cruz.
“Accordingly, he (Trillanes) cannot be saved by his parliamentary immunity and he cannot escape liability for making an attack on the integrity and credibility of the justices of the Court of Appeals which tend to degrade the dignity of this court and erode public confidence that should be accorded to it. Simply put, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is, under the attending circumstances, not above the law,” the decision said.
The other division members, Justices Ramon Garcia and Ramon Paul Hernando, concurred in the ruling.
Trillanes was found guilty of indirect contempt under Rule 71, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which penalized “any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice.”
The case against Trillanes was filed by the camp of former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.
Trillanes gave a television interview on April 7 last year shortly after exposing that the Binay camp paid appeals justices P25 million each to secure a temporary restraining order to stop the Office of the Ombudsman from preventively suspending the Makati mayor due to alleged corruption in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
The senator’s allegations were also quoted in several online news publications.
Binay said Trillanes, without offering any evidence, alleged that the Court of Appeals adheres to the “pera-pera system” and that justices of the court’s Sixth Division in particular received millions of pesos in tranches from the Binay camp in exchange for favorable restraining orders and injunctions.
During the hearings, Trillanes countered that the made the utterances in the performance of his public oversight and investigative duties as senator, hence covered by parliamentary immunity under Section 11 of the Constitution.
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