The immunity of a senator to badmouth anyone is not absolute, especially if the senator or congressman has not sufficient basis to prove his accusations.
This must be the strong message of the Court of Appeals to the members of the Philippine Congress after it cited Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th for indirect contempt on Monday in connection with the senator’s accusations against several CA justices last year.
In a 15-page resolution, the court’s Special 11th Division said Trillanes’ disclosure last year that the camp of then Makati City (Metro Manila) Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay gave P25 million each to two magistrates of the CA’s Sixth Division in exchange for the release of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and subsequently stopped the suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Binay for being baseless.
The decision penned by Associate Justice Stephen Cruz also ordered Trillanes to pay the CA P30,000 as a fine for his accusation against the two justices of the 6th Division.
Associate Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Melchor Sadang concurred with Cruz’s ruling.
Mayor Binay went to the CA to legally stop the decision of the Ombudsman to boot him out as mayor of Makati City.
Corruption charges against him stemmed from the supposedly anomalous construction of Makati City Hall Building 2.
Trillanes, who was at the forefront of the Senate investigation of supposedly massive graft and corruption activities of the Binays headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, said the CA’s 6th Division issued a TRO because two of the justices were paid P25 million each by the mayor’s camp.
The senator, however, failed to prove his accusations.
The law states that the members of Philippine Congress have immunity from suit as long as they are making allegations in connection with issues and concerns being tackled in the legislative body.
Cruz gave Trillanes 30 days to file his comment on the CA decision.
He said the senator should not file a “motion to dismiss” the contempt charges.
Mayor Binay was given five days to comment on the comment that will be filed by Trillanes.
Cruz told both parties that if they failed to file any “pleading,” the case would be declared as “submitted for resolution.”