MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, September 27, at the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 142 over the libel case filed against him by former mayor Junjun Binay.
"Kanina 'yung arraignment ko. Nag-plea ako not guilty. I submitted myself to the legal process, hinaharap ko 'to," Trillanes told reporters.
(My arraignment was held earlier. I pleaded not guilty. I submitted myself to the legal process, I am facing this.)
The court earlier issued a warrant of arrest after it found probable cause in the libel case against the senator. Trillanes posted bail of P10,000 in February.
After his arraignment, Trillanes said he remains unfazed.
"Basta alam ko mababaw. It will not stop me from bringing down corrupt people like them. 'Di ako matitinag. If I will speak my mind again in the future, kung kailangan gagawin ko," Trillanes said.
(All I know is it's shallow. It will not stop me from bringing down corrupt people like them. I will not back down. If I will speak my mind again in the future, if needed, I would do it again.)
The Binay camp, meanwhile, said they are looking forward to the conviction of the senator, who they said "maliciously maligned the reputation of the Binays."
"We look forward [to] convicting him. Let this be a lesson to him so that he will no longer use his position in bullying and destroying the reputation of people," Binay's lawyer Dan Subido said in a statement.
'Control' of Makati courts?
Trillanes, for his part, hit back and questioned why the Binay camp seems certain that he would be found guilty. The senator added that Binay and his father, former vice president Jejomar Binay, might be convicted ahead of him.
"Bakit niya masasabi 'yun? Kontrolado ba nila korte sa Makati? Tignan natin kung mauuna ako ma-convict o mauuna sila ma-convict sa Sandiganbayan," Trillanes said.
(How can he say that? Do they control the Makati court? Let's see if I'll be convicted first or if they'll be convicted ahead of me at the Sandiganbayan.)
The former vice president and his son are facing criminal charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Parking Building II, which had been the subject of a year-long Senate probe.
The inquiry was widely believed to have damaged the chances of the former vice president, who had already declared his intention to seek the presidency then.
Just following rule of law
Senator Nancy Binay, daughter of the former vice president, said they are just following the rule of law in filing the case against Trillanes.
"Eh hindi naman namin ginagawa 'yun to stop him. We are just exercising our right kasi sinira-siraan niya kami. Ngayon na na-arraign na siya, siguro may katotohanan 'yung reklamo namin sa kanya na ginawa niyang paninira," she added.
(We're not doing this to stop him. We are just exercising our right because he maligned our family. Now that he has been arraigned, it just means that our complaint against him is valid.)
"Bilog ang mundo. 'Yung nangyayari ngayon, totally different noon. Sila-sila 'yung nag-aaway. Baka panonoorin ko na lang sila. Mas gano'n 'pag BFF kayo, tapos nag-away, mas masakit ata at mas violent," she said.
(The world is round. What is happening now is totally different from before. They are now the ones fighting. I might just watch them from afar. I think it's like that when best friends fight, it's more painful and violent.)
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org