HANDS OFF. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says that for now, the DOJ will not ask city prosecutors to hand over to state prosecutors the other cases against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is actively seeking the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on charges connected to the failed coup attempts led by the former soldier in 2003 and 2007, but Justice Secretary Guevarra said those are the only two cases against Trillanes that they will handle for now.
“There is no such order for state prosecutors to take over other pending criminal cases against Senator Trillanes,” Guevarra said in a text message on Monday, September 10.
The other cases and complaints against Trillanes are being handled by city prosecutors of Pasay City and Davao City.
The DOJ can take over the case from city prosecutors, just like what former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II did when he took over the cases against resigned election chief Andres Bautista from Manila prosecutors. The DOJ under Aguirre also took out a Cebu prosecutor from tax cases against BDO Unibank, and assigned it to another prosecutor.
Asked if the DOJ has any plans in the future of ordering a transfer of cases, Guevarra said, “We’ll play it by ear,” but that there is no such discussion for now.
“Usually the grounds (for transfer) is based on national security and public order...but we are not even talking about the need to transfer the preliminary investigation from the field office to the DOJ proper,” Guevarra said.
Trillanes was charged last March for inciting to sedition before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) over a privilege speech in the Senate that sort of dared soldiers to shoot President Rodrigo Duterte.
Trillanes was responding to Duterte’s pronouncement that anyone can shoot him if he is found to have more than P40 million in his bank account.
Ever the provocateur, Trillanes insisted that Duterte’s bank accounts show P2 billion worth of transactions, and said: "Kung makikita ito ng mga sundalo, M60 machine gun ang gagamitin sa 'yo (If the soldiers are watching this, they will use M60 machine guns against you).”
The sedition case was filed by lawyer Manny Luna, a defender of Duterte, and who has since been assigned commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
The Davao City Prosecutor’s Office is also handling two complaints filed against Trillanes by Duterte’s son, resigned Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte. The younger Duterte filed a civil complaint against Trillanes in December, and a libel complaint on September 6.
Paolo’s basis for suing Trillanes for libel is a radio interview where the senator supposedly accused the presidential son and presidential son-in-law Mans Carpio for demanding a cut from Uber’s penalty fees. – Rappler.com
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