Binay camp wants SC to probe Trillanes bribery claim
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr said it would prefer that the Supreme Court (SC) conduct its own probe into allegations that the mayor paid off two justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) to obtain an order stopping the suspension order against him.
On Tuesday, April 14, Binay lawyer Claro Certeza said they would welcome an investigation by the High Court into the bribery allegations raised by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday.
Trillanes said that CA justices Jose Reyes Jr and Francisco Acosta of the 6th Division allegedly got a total of P50 million ($1.12 million) to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction stopping indefinitely the Ombudsman's preventive suspension order against Binay.
The 6-month preventive suspension stems from a complaint related to the alleged overpricing of a city hall building.
On Monday, Trillanes filed a resolution asking the Senate to investigate allegations of corruption in the judiciary.
But Certeza said that the High Court, not the Senate, is the proper venue to investigate the allegations.
“The judiciary is an independent body. The judiciary cannot be investigated by another institution,” he said.
Asked if Binay's camp would recommend an investigation by the SC, Certeza replied: "Of course, because being involved in this I know 100% that such a thing did not happen."
The Binay camp would also participate and welcome a probe by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Certeza added.
Parliamentary immunity not a defense
Responding to Trillanes' allegations, Binay on Monday filed a libel complaint against the senator, saying that his "damaging and ruinous" claims had no factual basis and were prompted by "ill will and spite."
The Binay camp said Trillanes merely cited "reliable sources privy to the matter" without presenting credible evidence.
But the senator was unfazed by the libel complaint, saying that parliamentary immunity protects him.
“They know that you can't do that to a senator because this is our job. We expose anomaly. So if they will dangle that on our heads, then no one will talk about these issues,” he said on Wednesday, April 15.
Certeza, however, said Trillanes cannot invoke parliamentary immunity as a defense.
“Immunity only covers official actions. 'Yung paninira hindi covered ng immunity (Besmirching reputations is not covered by immunity),” Certeza said.
"His malicious and scurrilous accusations regarding the fictitious bribery charges against Mayor Binay were made in public, outside the halls of the Senate," he added.
Binay's lawyer added that Trillanes was not speaking during a Senate proceeding when he made the statements.
"It was not made in relation to the discharge of his functions as a senator," he said.
Certeza added the senator must be held accountable for his statements, which he said were intended only to "besmirch the reputation of the Binay family and destroy the integrity of the judiciary."
He also cited a Supreme Court ruling, which states that parliamentary immunity must not be allowed to be used as a vehicle "to ridicule, demean, and destroy the reputation of the court and its magistrates, nor as armor for personal wrath and disgust." – Rappler.com