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DOJ indicts Trillanes before Makati RTC over remarks vs. Binay

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is facing another libel case in court over his allegations of corruption against former Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family before the 2016 elections.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it filed the case on Monday against Trillanes before the Makati City Regional Trial Court after finding probable cause in the complaint lodged by the former vice president in September 2015.

The former vice president complained about Trillanes' several allegations against him, including the P100 million-a-year racket involving ghost senior citizens in Makati, where the Binays have been ruling for three decades now.

As of posting time, GMA News Online is still awaiting a reaction from Trillanes' camp.

But in his defense, Trillanes said he did not recall having publicly made the statements nor is he aware of their publication in the internet. He also said the complaint had prescribed and there was undue delay in the preliminary investigation.

The DOJ dismissed Trillanes' claims, as it branded the senator's claims about the P100-million racket "clearly defamatory."

"The publication shows respondent's [Trillanes] imputation to complainant [Binay] of vices and defects, as well as the commission of crimes, including violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The statement is clearly defamatory (Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code)," stated the resolution dated October 9.

"Malice in fact is evident from the fact that the public statement was not based on established facts. Apparently, the public statement was made without regard to the truth or falsity thereof and at such a time as complainant was consistently coming out in the surveys as frontrunner in the May 2016 presidential election. The questioned publication being defamatory and malice being apparent, a prima facie case for libel exists."

Trillanes' allegation of P100-million racket a year was not made in relation to his duty as senator in the course of legislative proceedings, thus the statement "does not fall under any of the absolutely or qualifiedly privileged communications," according to the DOJ.

The DOJ also did not give weight to Trillanes' defense that the complaint is defective as it failed to charge under Article 360 of the RPC other persons responsible for the publication of his statement. 

"This provision simply specifies the persons responsible for libel whom the complainant may sue aside from the person who authored or caused the publication of the libelous matter," the resolution stated.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog prepared the resolution which was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.

Trillanes pleaded not guilty in September last year for a separate libel case pending before the Makati RTC Branch 142 involving former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.

That case involves Trillanes’ statements that two justices of the Court of Appeals received P25 million each in exchange for a temporary restraining order on the implementation on Junjun Binay’s suspension as then mayor of Makati. — NB/RSJ, GMA News