Calida to Trillanes: Apologize or I'll sue you for libel
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Solicitor General Jose Calida threatened to file a libel complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for accusing him of stealing the lawmaker's amnesty application form.
"Unless Mr Trillanes expresses his sincere apology for calling me a thief, I shall be constrained to file a criminal case for libel plus damages against him," Calida said in a statement on Thursday, September 27.
Trillanes told Senate reporters on Wednesday, September 26, that Calida hid or destroyed his amnesty application form. The solicitor general previously secured a certification from the military's personnel office that "there's no available copy" of the senator's amnesty form in their records.
"Maliwanag na kung meron mang nagtago o nagsira ng mga application documents ko eh itong si Mr Calida (It's clear that if anyone hid or destroyed my application documents, it would be Mr Calida)," Trillanes said.
Calida said in response, "I have never entered the offices of the J1 or the Personnel Division of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) at Camp Aguinaldo so how could I 'steal' documents kept there?"
Trillanes indicated that he would not apologize to Calida.
Asked about Calida's demand, the senator said: "He’s in no position to demand anything. He knows the truth. 'Yung buong Pilipinas alam ang katotohanan (The entire Philippines knows the truth)."
"Kung magfa-file siya, gawin niya. Trip-trip niya ‘yan (If he'll file [a complaint], then just do it. That's his thing). He can do whatever he wants, I expect the worst out of him," he added.
Trillanes' missing application form, which contains the required admission of guilt, is the basis of President Rodrigo Duterte for voiding the amnesty previously granted to the opposition senator.
Duterte has since revealed it was Calida who initiated the review of Trillanes' amnesty.
Duterte's Proclamation No. 572 was first reported on September 4, following its publication in the Manila Times. That same day, Trillanes led a Senate panel investigation into the P261.39 million in government contracts won by Calida's security firm Vigilant. (READ: Calida wants Supreme Court to block Senate probe into firm contracts)
Trillanes has submitted affidavits of military officials from the Department of National Defense ad hoc committee which received and processed his application form.
But Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda disregarded the affidavits, and proceeded to order the arrest of the senator, as requested by the Department of Justice. He set bail at P200,000 which Trillanes was able to pay on the day of his arrest.
Trillanes now faces the tough challenge of his coup d'etat case at Makati City RTC Branch 148, which is non-bailable. – with a report from Aika Rey/Rappler.com