MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – A group of lawyers filed a complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for inciting to sedition, proposal to commit coup d’ etat, and graft before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday, November 16, 2017.
The complaint does not include the violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act which was initially announced by the group of lawyers allied with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Lawyers Glenn Chong, Jacinto Paras and, Manny Luna filed the complaint with the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office because the alleged crimes stem from a privilege speech Trillanes made at the Senate, which is located in the city.
In a statement, Trillanes said the complaint would not stop him from "exposing" the President and his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo "Polong" Duterte. (READ: Paolo Duterte a 'smuggler'? Trillanes releases documents anew)
"These Duterte minions are doing all sorts of harassment against me in the hope that they would be able to divert my attention. Sorry, but I remain focused on finding ways to continue to expose Duterte's murders, corruption and secret bank accounts; as well as Polong's BOC smuggling and involvement in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment," Trillanes told reporters shortly after the complaint was filed.
In a privilege speech on October 3, Trillanes accused President Rodrigo Duterte of having P2 billion worth of transactions in his bank account not reflected in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Prior to the senator's speech, Duterte challenged anybody to shoot or overthrow him if they can find more than P40 million in his bank. Playing on that rhetoric, Trillanes said in his speech that soldiers can now use M60 machine guns on the President because the amount exceeded P40 million.
The lawyers said this is seditious, and that Trillanes violated Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code, or inciting to sedition, particularly the 3rd definition of sedition under the law: “To inflict any act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of any public officer or employee.”
Trillanes also allegedly proposed to commit coup d’etat which is prohibited under Article 136 of the Revised Penal Code, when he made the "M60 machine guns" remark.
They also cited in their complaints Trillanes’ many media statements repeating the accusation of hidden wealth against Duterte.
They supported this with the exhaustive definition of inciting to sedition under Article 142 which includes circulating “scurrilous libels against the Republic of the Philippines or any of the duly constituted authorities thereof, or which tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office.”
The lawyers claimed that Trillanes, by “sounding like a broken record” with his repeated false claims of Duterte’s wealth, "caused undue injury to President Duterte, including the government," making him liable for graft.
Graft complaints against officials with the salary grade of Trillanes are under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman.
This jurisdiction rule faces contention after the Supreme Court ruled that it was the Department of Justice (DOJ) which was authorized to handle the drug trade cases of Senator Leila de Lima.
The Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office is under the DOJ.
When asked about this, Paras initially said that Pasay is nearer to the complainants compared to the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.
"Well, the Ombudsman and the city fiscal's office have concurrent jurisdiction. Siguro para sa amin mas malapit-lapit dito sa amin kaysa doon sa Quezon City (Maybe for us, this is nearer to us than Quezon City)," Paras said.
Luna stepped in and told reporters: "In terms of jurisdiction, the one which has jurisdiction is the Regional Trial Court not the Sandiganbayan. Jurisprudence will support this theory that's why we are filing it here."
Anti-Money Laundering Act
The lawyers also cited the clarification made by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that it never gave any bank records to Trillanes, even if senator never claimed his records on Duterte's accounts came from AMLC. In fact, he was the one who announced in April that AMLC denied him access.
The lawyers also cited the AMLC’s statement that it never gave a bank report to Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang. Carandang never said he received a bank report from AMLC; just records.
Records are raw documents, while a report would already establish an analysis or findings, which the AMLC has not yet released.
Carandang said records show a money flow of almost P1 billion in Duterte's accounts. (READ: Did Carandang commit breaches, and can the President remove him?)
Paras and Luna already filed a complaint against Carandang before the Office of the Executive Secretary.
The lawyers initially announced they would also file a complaint against Trillanes for violating Section 14(c) of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act which prohibits “any person who, with malice, or in bad faith, reports or files a completely unwarranted or false information relative to money laundering transaction against any person.”
They did not push through with it.
"The reason for that is that nag-issue ng statement ang AMLC and itong kaso laban kay Carandang ay (the AMLC issued a statement and the case agianst Carandang is) pending before the Office of the President. We are respecting the subjudice rule and we would like to tell Senator Trillanes that if he cannot follow simple laws of the land, we're not like that," Luna said.
Trillanes earlier said he welcomes the filing of complaints as he hopes this would enable the court to subpoena Duterte’s bank documents. – Rappler.com