Court finds Trillanes guilty of libel, orders him to pay P100K fine, P500K damages

Published May 31, 2021, 7:39 PM

by Jel Santos

A Makati City court ordered former senator Antonio Trillanes IV to pay a fine of P100,000 and P500,000 worth of moral damages and costs of suit after finding him guilty of libel that was filed by former Makati mayor Junjun Binay.

Antonio Trillanes

In 2015, Binay filed a libel complaint against Trillanes for “publicly and maliciously” accusing him and his family of “bribery and other crimes without factual basis.”

In his decision, Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano ordered Trillanes to pay the fine and damages along with costs of suit to Binay.

“Neither can the accused used as cloak the right to freedom of expression or speech. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith,” the judge said in his decision, which was signed on May 31, 2021.

“Accused right to freedom of expression must be exercised responsibly. The exercise of any right enshrined in the Bill of Rights comes with an equal burden of responsible exercise of that right. The recognition of a right is not a free license for the one claiming it to run roughshod over the rights of others,” he added.

To recall, Trillanes claimed in 2015 that lawyer Pancho Villaraza facilitated the payoff of Court of Appeals Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta in trade for issuing a temporary restraining order against Binay’s suspension.

Quoting his “reliable sources”, the former senator said the judges received P20 million each for the first TRO, adding that they were also paid P5 million each for the permanent injunction.

 Both camps have yet to issue statements about the decision of the Makati court.