Trillanes to question Davao City fiscal's jurisdiction over libel complaints
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is set to question the jurisdiction of the Davao City fiscal office over the libel complaints filed by presidential son and son-in-law, Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio.
Rey Robles, Trillanes' lawyer for his amnesty and libel cases, said the filing of the complaints in Davao City is highly questionable, as the supposed criminal violations happened in Cebu.
Trillanes on Tuesday said he would appear in Davao City if needed. But on Wednesday, the camp seemed to have changed strategy. Robles said they would soon file a motion to dismiss the case, citing lack of jurisdiction.
“Well, ang question ho namin dyan bakit ho sa Davao City nakafile yung kaso? All of the allegations of the complaint we just received, ang elements nangyari sa Cebu, pati mga testigo sa Cebu. Sa tingin ho namin walang jurisdiction ang piskalya ng Davao and we will file appropriate motions at the appropriate time,” Robles told reporters on Wednesday, September 19.
(Well, our question is why file the case in Davao City? All of the allegations of the complaint we just received, all elements happened in Cebu, even the witnesses are in Cebu. So we believe the Davao City fiscal has not jurisdiction. We will file appropriate motions at the appropriate time.)
“[We will file a] motion to dismiss the case kasi walang jurisdiction ang piskalya ng Davao sa offense na nangyari sa Cebu… Apparently, gustong magkaroon ng home court advantage sa Davao, so it should not be allowed. Even a first year law student would tell you that,” he said. (We will file a motion to dismiss the case because the Davao City fiscal has no jurisdiction over the offense that happened in Cebu. Apparently, they want to have a home court advantage in Davao, so it should not be allowed.)
It was on September 6 – or 4 days before the subpoena was issued – that Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio filed separate libel complaints against Trillanes with the Office of the City Prosecutor in Davao City. (READ: LIST: Cases, complaints filed vs Trillanes under Duterte administration)
Trillanes supposedly accused them, in a radio interview with broadcaster Leo Lastimosa of DYAB Cebu, of "conniving" with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Regional Director Ahmed Cuison to demand a "percentage" of money before approving the franchise of ride-hailing firm Uber, back when it was still operating in the Philippines.
But the senator had said he could not even remember that radio interview. Paolo Duterte was still the Davao City vice mayor when Trillanes supposedly made the allegation.
Robles said there was no “malice” – one of the requirements of libel – on the part of Trillanes, as he is an elected official tasked to “fiscalize” the government.
“The senator is an elected official, part of his duty is to fiscalize. The complainants here are public personalities at kung nacriticize o may nasabi against them na nakasakit sa kanila, eh sabi ng SC (and it they were criticized or some things were said against them, the SC said) they should not be onion-skinned. It’s part of the democratic system. And they have to prove malice on the part of the senator. Since he's doing his job, obvious na walang maaascribe na malice sa kanya (no malice could be ascribed to the senator)," Robles said.
On Tuesday, Trillanes’ office released a copy of a subpoena issued by the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office, asking the senator to submit a counter-affidavit.
To submit a counter-affidavit, respondent Trillanes is required to be present to subscribe to the document before a prosecutor. In February 2018, however, the Davao City council declared the senator persona non-grata.
“How do you require a person na dineclare na persona non-grata, ibig sabihin ayaw siya papuntahin doon tapos pipilitin siya pumunta dun?” Robles said. (How do you require a person declared persona non-grata to go there? It means they don't want him there and they're going to require him to go there?)
Trillanes earlier said the libel complaints against him were meant to harass him. – Rappler.com