Not guilty of libel, Trillanes tells Davao City court
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday, January 15, pleaded not guilty to all 4 counts of libel filed against him by President Rodrigo Duterte’s son, Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law Manases Carpio.
Trillanes entered the plea before Davao City Branch 54 Judge Melinda Alconcel Dayanghirang, marking the senator's first time to return to the President's hometown after city officials declared him persona non grata in February 2018.
The libel charges stemmed from Trillanes' accusations linking Paolo Duterte and Carpio to shabu smuggling, as well as alleged extortion of ride-sharing companies such as Uber.
Last week, Trillanes filed a petition for review before the Department of Justice, which has 60 days to decide. Pending a DOJ decision, the court ordered a mediation between parties.
In the same hearing, Trillanes also asked the court to consider his motion for travel for his upcoming official trip to the United States from January 27 to February 10. The court has yet to decide on the matter.
The court earlier rejected the DOJ’s request for a hold departure order against Trillanes, saying the senator was not considered a “flight risk.”
Before the court holds a proper trial, Dayanghirang ordered mediation between the two camps on March 21, saying the case of libel can be mediated.
Rainier Madrid, counsel of Paolo Duterte and Carpio, said they would heed the judge's order but gave no assurance it would succeed.
Madrid even raised the possibility of a public apology from Trillanes. But when asked further, the lawyer said it would ultimately be up to his clients.
“It all depends on the parties involved.... If Senator Trillanes will humble himself, probably apologize, we’ll never know. So that is the object of mediation. And of course if the complainants, my clients, will agree. We don’t know how it will be resolved,” he said.
Asked about his reception in Davao City for the first time since the city council declared him persona non grata last year, Trillanes said he was pleasantly surprised to receive a "warm" welcome from Davaoeños.
“Surprisingly warm. Sa akin naman, I still believe lahat tayo mga Pilipino, 'yung iba nakakaintindi doon sa ginagawa ko kaya maganda 'yung pagsalubong. Pero of course, naintindihan din naman natin 'yung ibang nasasaktan doon sa pagposisyon ko laban sa administrasyong ito. That’s how democracy works,” he said.
(Surprisingly warm. For me, I still believe we are all Filipinos, some understand my actions so they have given me a good welcome. But of course, I also understand some feel hurt by my position against this administration. That's how democracy works.) – Rappler.com