A group of lawyers on Thursday said they would be filing various criminal charges, including sedition, against Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th for encouraging soldiers to kill President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech delivered more than a month ago.
According to the group headed by former congressman Jacinto Paras, Trillanes lied about the President’s supposed multimillion-peso bank deposits and called on the military to use their M-16 rifles and shoot Duterte.
It was referring to the October 3 privilege speech delivered by Trillanes wherein he accused Duterte of having at least P2 billion in credits and deposits in numerous banks.
The senator said that starting 2006, Duterte had 13 bank transactions involving P50 million every six months and 21 transactions amounting to P40 million each.
In October 2013, an average of P193 million in daily transactions was allegedly made in Duterte’s bank accounts.
The senator in his speech then quoted the statement of Duterte telling soldiers to shoot him if they can find more than P40 million in his bank accounts.
“Kung makikita ito ng mga sundalo, M16 machine guns ang gagamitin sa iyo kase marami ito kase mauubos ang magazine kung P40 million ang hinahanap [If the soldiers will see these (bank records), they will use M16 machine guns on you because this is a lot, the magazines would be emptied. That is if they are just looking for P40 million]” Trillanes said in his speech.
Paras said the senator lied about the supposed bank records of President Duterte because no less than the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) denied that it was the source of the bank records.
The AMLC in a letter in September denied being the source of the documents and having provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report in relation to Duterte’s bank transactions.
It said the figures cited by Trillanes were misleading and wrong because alleged debits and credits representing inflows and outflows of funds were added together.
“By concocting all these lies and showing spurious documents, he has encouraged, or he has called on the military to kill the President,” Paras said in a breakfast forum at Serye Restaurant in Quezon City.
Lawyer Manuel Luna, the legal counsel of the group, said they would initially file cases of inciting to sedition and proposal to commit coup d’etat against the senator.
“The mere expression which does not fall under freedom of speech is already inciting to sedition. If you attempt to cause the public to endanger the President or the government that is already inciting to sedition… He [Trillanes] has crossed the line,” Luna added.
Apart from the two cases, the group said it will also charge Trillanes for violation of Section 14C of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act for malicious reporting, and Section 3e of the Anti-Graft Law for causing undue injury to the government.
It added that among the pieces of evidence that they would be using against Trillanes were his privilege speech, his speech at the University of the Philippines, photographs showing him in several rallies and statements he made to the media.
“We respect that he is a senator but he has gone out of line and we are doing this because we have a civic duty to protect the government,” Luna said.
He added that they are not doing this because they are supporters of Duterte, noting that they would do the same even if the people had elected a different President.
Trillanes welcomed the plan of the lawyers’ group to sue him for sedition over his supposed threat on the life of the President, noting that it is a chance for him to get the court’s permission to open the bank accounts of Duterte.
“No matter how absurd these cases may seem, I actually welcome them… as part of my legal defense,” he said.
“I would be able to ask the court to subpoena his [Duterte] bank documents as an exemption to the Bank Secrecy Law,” the senator added.