MANILA, Philippines – The camp of dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr expressed satisfaction with the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is guilty of contempt.
“The ruling of the Court of Appeals reiterates the importance of respect for the rule of law and a co-equal branch of government. It emphasizes the importance of civility and decency in public discourse,” Binay’s spokesperson, Joey Salgado, said in a statement, on Tuesday, May 24.
“More importantly, the court ruling is a reminder that not even a member of Congress can abuse the privileges reposed on him by the electorate to malign and bully personalities and destroy the reputation and integrity of institutions,” he added.
In April 2015, Binay filed a contempt case against Trillanes after the senator accused Binay of bribing two CA justices for the appellate court to stop his first suspension order over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Parking Building II.
Trillanes had said he was confident that case against him would not prosper “because it would be absurd for a lower court to cite a legislator [in] contempt for performing his oversight function of exposing or calling to investigate an alleged bribery/corruption committed by a public official based on credible information.”
In a decision released Monday, however, the CA said Trillanes failed to show he was exercising his functions as a legislator when he made the claims against Binay. (READ: SC upholds CA power to review Ombudsman orders)
“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,” the court said.
“Accordingly, he cannot be saved by his claim of parliamentary immunity and the doctrine of absolutely privileged communications,” it added.
The court also said that, to date, Trillanes’ “malicious allegations” remain baseless and unsubstantiated.
While Binay managed to stop his first suspension order, the Ombudsman later dismissed him from office because of the alleged anomalies behind the Makati City Hall Parking Building II.
He and other former city hall officials are facing criminal charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. (READ: Court issues hold departure order vs Junjun Binay, ex-Makati execs)
Trillanes to appeal before SC
Trillanes said he would file an appeal before the Supreme Court.
“As far as I’m concerned, I merely performed my duty as a senator of the republic in exposing corruption in government,” he said in a statement.
“More importantly, the allegation was not made through a press statement but was, in fact, the principal subject of a Senate resolution calling for a legislative inquiry,” the senator added.
Trillanes is one of the staunchest critics of Binay and his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
He was among the senators who led a 20-month investigation that dug into the corruption allegations against the elder Binay, a probe that eventually derailed the presidential bid of the outgoing Vice President. – Rappler.com