Junjun Binay’s camp claims victory in libel case vs Trillanes
Mike Frialde (Philstar.com) - February 5, 2016 - 12:29am

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of dismissed Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay on Friday claimed initial victory on the libel case it had lodged against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV after a Makati court denied the solon’s motions to suspend the hearings on the case and to suspend the service of the arrest warrant on him.

Binay’s lawyer Claro Certeza said that after Makati Regional Court Branch 142 Judge Dina Pestaño Teves has denied Trillanes’ motions following a hearing Friday morning, the solon is left with no other choice than to surrender to the court and then post his P10,000 bail immediately after returning to the country. Trillanes is in the United States on official travel.

“Since the motions were denied, it is considered a victory in our part. Ang hinihintay na lang namin ay ang husgado na mag-set ng hearings and he (Trillanes) will be given a chance to defend himself,” said Certeza.

“Technically, kailangan niyang mag-surrender. At pag-surrender niya, post siya ng bail bond tsaka lang i-rerecall yung warrant of arrest,” added Certeza in a phone interview.

The senator through his lawyer, filed the two motions before the Makati RTC Branch 142 on Monday afternoon, shortly after the court ordered the issuance of the arrest warrant against the solon.

Trillanes’ lawyer filed the motions and asked that the service of the warrant of arrest as well as the proceedings on the libel case be suspended as Trillanes will be filing a motion for reconsideration before the Department of Justice.

The Makati court issued the warrant of arrest against Trillanes after the Justice Department found probable cause to indict Trillanes for libel.

Last April 13,  then Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay filed a complaint for libel before the Office of the Makati City Prosecutor against Trillanes for having claimed that Binay bribed justices of the Court of Appeals 6th Division into issuing the writ of preliminary injunction against the Ombudsman’s order to have him suspended over his alleged involvement in the alleged irregular construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2.

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 the Inquirer, 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 added Trillanes was also quoted as saying that he (Binay) and his family were “part of a syndicate” that has committed various crimes and irregularities.

In his complaint-affidavit, Binay said it was evident from the media interview of Trillanes and the subsequent article published in the Inquirer, titled “Trillanes: I will expose Binay paid for TRO”, that he had made the statements “despite the utter lack of evidence."

Binay pointed out that Trillanes himself had admitted during the interview that he had no valid proof or factual basis for his pronouncements.

In his complaint, Binay 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.

Binay further cited a ruling in his complaint-affidavit that says, “No bona fide efforts having been made to ascertain the truth of such statements before they were written and published in reckless disregard of the truth, the presumption of malice applies as these article(s) are not privileged communication.” [In re: Jurado, 243 SCRA 239 (1995)]

He said the libelous statements made by Trillanes in public were “attended with malice in fact as they were prompted by ill will and spite inasmuch as they have no factual basis whatsoever and were not made in response to duty, but only with obvious intention to injure my reputation as well as those of my family.”

Meanwhile, Certeza said that while Trillanes could be arrested by police officers upon arrival at the airport from the United States, the police would most likely extend him courtesy as a senator and would most likely escort him without handcuffs to the Makati court to surrender and post bail. 

“Pwede siyang arestuhin ng airpot police. Kaya lang, siyempre alam mo naman ang pulis, komo senador yan, baka sasbihan lang yan na halika at samahan na kita sa husgado para magpiyansa ka na. With due respect naman to him because he is a senator,” Certeza said.

Certeza also clarified that Trillanes does not enjoy immunity from the libel case lodged by Binay against him.

“Immunity can only apply while Congress is in session for offenses where the penalty is less than six years. E matatapos na ang session e. This week or next week tapos na yun. So wala ng session. So pwede na siyang arestuhin,” he said.

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