Trillanes indicted for sedition

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Trillanes indicted for sedition
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said that the case would not dissuade him from criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — A Pasay City prosecutor’s office recommended the filing of an inciting to sedition case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV stemming from a privilege speech in the Senate calling on military men to shoot President Rodrigo Duterte for his unexplained wealth.

In a privilege speech in October last year, Trillanes said that soldiers should shoot the Philippine leader using an M-60 machine gun for his alleged hidden wealth.

Trillanes is accusing Duterte and his family of having bank transactions amounting to around P2 billion, adding that this money could not be justified as the president did not have any business.

Trillanes, a staunch critic of the tough-talking president, labeled the recommendation as a form of pressure on him since his remark was constitutionally protected from suit.

The shoot-the-president remark led a group of lawyers affiliated with the pro-Duterte Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption to move for the senator’s prosecution for inciting to sedition (Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code), proposing to commit coup d’etat (Article 136 of the RPC) and graft.

According to the decision signed by Joahna Lim, a Pasay City senior assistant city prosecutor, the utterances Trillanes made “may have been suggestive to fall within the scope of inciting to sedition.”

“It is recommended that the within attached information for inciting to sedition… against respondents Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, John and Jane Does be approved and filed in court,” the decision, dated March 14, 2018, said.

However, Lim said that the charge for conspiracy and proposal to commit coup d’etat could not prosper.

“The acts complained of do not show that respondent proposes to other persons the commission of the crime of coup d’etat,” the decision said in dismissing it for lack of probable cause.

The decision added that the remarks of the senator was not sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that he proposed to others an attack accompanied by violence, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth against the government.

Trillanes, in a statement, said the pro-Duterte lawyers were mistaken if they thought that the case would deter him from what he was fighting for.

“If their objective is to cow me to stop criticizing Duterte, well, just like what I said before, this further encourages me to fight what is wrong and evil,” the senator said.

He also stressed that his speech was covered by immunity and he did not incite anyone to commit anything.

“Unlike Duterte who is afraid to face his cases, I will face this,” he said, in an apparent dig at the president’s decision to withdraw from an international treat that created the International Criminal Court, where the chief executive might face a case stemming from his brutal war on drugs.

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