Ex-Makati Mayor Binay on Trillanes libel conviction: Gov’t position is not a license to destroy reputations

Published June 1, 2021, 12:53 PM

by Jel Santos

Former Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay said the court ruling that declared former senator Antonio Trillanes IV guilty of libel is a reminder that a government position is not a license to destroy reputations.

(Manila Bulletin File Photo / Antonio Trillanes Facebook page)

He added that “courts will not shirk on its duty to abate abuse or misuse of power.”

“Sana sa desisyong ito ng hukuman ay matigil na ang marumi at mapanirang pulitika (I hope with this decision of the court, the dirty and destructive politics in the country will stop),” he said in a Facebook post.

“Sana ay matigil na ang pagpaparatang ng walang katibayan na ang layunin lang ay siraan ang mga kaaway sa pulitika ( Hopefully, giving baseless accusations which only aims to destroy the reputation of a political rival will stop).”

Trillanes said he will “exhaust all legal remedies to overturn” the Makati court’s ruling.

“That is the price to pay for standing up against very powerful people,” he said in a statement, pertaining to his libel conviction.

“Regardless, we will not let this legal setback discourage us in pursuing our advocacy to purge our government of corrupt and abusive public officials,” he said.

On May 31, a Makati City court ordered Trillanes to pay a fine of P100,000 and P500,000 worth of moral damages and costs of the suit after finding him guilty of libel.

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 the decision of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano, he said that “neither can the accused use as cloak the right to freedom of expression or speech.”

“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.

Trillanes claimed in 2015 that lawyer Pancho Villaraza facilitated the payoff of Court of Appeals Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta in exchange 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.