The lawyers of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay on Thursday asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to cite Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th for indirect contempt for his “disrespectful and unrelenting malicious attacks toward the court and its justices.”
Trillanes publicly accused the justices of the CA Sixth Division of accepting bribes worth millions of pesos from Binay after they granted the mayor’s prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to stay the suspension order of the Ombudsman.
In an 11-page petition, Binay’s lawyers said that the senator’s “contemptuous remarks,” published in various newspapers and online articles, have cast aspersions not only on the Justices of the 6th Division but on the entire Court of Appeals itself, thus “bringing the authority of the Courts and the administration of law into disrepute.”
“Trillanes, by maliciously and baselessly attacking the credibility and integrity of the Honorable Court and the Justices of the 6th Division, clearly committed acts which constitute indirect contempt of court and should be made to answer therefor,” the petition said.
Under Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, acts that constitute indirect contempt include “any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice.”
The lawyers said that the senator’s act of baselessly accusing the entire CA as being a corrupt court adhering to the “pera” system and the Justices of the 6th Division accepting sums of money for the issuance of a TRO and injunction was “a patent and wilful contempt of court.”
“Without a doubt, such comments made by respondent Trillanes transcended the permissible bounds of fair comment and criticism,” they said.
Quoting verbatim the remarks of the senator in the petition, the lawyers said it was “apparent that his malicious imputations, by his own admission, have no leg or basis to stand on.”
They underscored how Trillanes has blatantly displayed his lack of respect for the court, as he “whimsically and capriciously attacks the integrity and independence of the Honorable Court and its members without any evidence whatsoever.”
The lawyers also cited relevant jurisprudence, such as the Supreme Court decision on the case of Fudot vs. Cattleyla Land in October 2008, which defined indirect contempt as “one committed out of or in the presence of the court that tends to belittle, degrade, obstruct or embarrass the court and justice.”
“It is worthy to point out that the power to declare a person in contempt of court and in dealing with him accordingly is a means to protect and preserve the dignity of the court, the solemnity of the proceedings therein and the administration of justice from callous misbehavior and offensive personalities,” stated the lawyers in the petition.
They urged the court to cite Trillanes for indirect contempt and mete out the appropriate punishment, citing another case, which states that “respect for the court guarantees their stability and permanence.” “Without such guaranty, the institution of the courts would be resting on a very loose and flimsy foundation, such power is essential to the proper execution and effective maintenance of judicial authority.” (Andres vs. Cabrera, December 1979)
“As such, the Honorable Court should not hesitate to wield its inherent power to preserve its honor and dignity and safeguard the morals and ethics of the legal profession against the malicious and baseless attacks of respondent Trillanes,” the lawyers said.