Trillanes ready to go to Davao to answer libel complaints

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — Having holed up in the Senate for two weeks, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday said he is ready to fly to Davao City to respond to libel complaints filed against him.

"Kung kailangan puntahan para maayos 'yan, pupuntahan ko (If I need to go there to resolve that, I will go there)," Trillanes told Senate reporters when asked about his criminal complaints for libel, which were filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Davao City.

Presidential son and former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and brother-in-law Mans Carpio sued Trillanes for making "false, baseless, and unfounded" claims when he said in September 2017 that they extorted money from ride-hailing firms.

Trillanes said the Davao prosecutor's office on Monday asked him to file a counter-affidavit within 10 days.

"It's very, very obvious na talagang naghahanap ng mga paraan (they are really looking for ways) to shake me down, to harass me pero haharapin po natin 'yan (but we will face them)," he said. 

He added that his lawyers are exploring legal options, including having the case transferred to another court, noting that Davao City is a bailiwick of the Duterte family. Presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, the wife of the complainant, is mayor of Davao City.

Trillanes took a swipe at Paolo Duterte, saying he should have filed a libel case over the senator's claims the younger Duterte is part of a Chinese drug triad organization. But, Paolo Duterte said he was prevented from doing so since Trillanes made the statement during a Senate hearing on the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped through the country in 2017.

"Paano siya kasuhan ng libel sa shabu issue e nagtatago siya sa parliamentary immunity. Yung issue sa libel na nafile laban sa kanya ay di sakop sa immunity. Di kasi nag-iisip puro satsat. Duwag pa," Paolo Duterte said in a text message to CNN Philippines.

[Translation: "How can we file a libel case against him on the shabu issue when he's hiding under parliamentary immunity? The case filed against him is not covered by immunity. He's not thinking, he's all talk. He's a coward."]

In another statement, Paolo Duterte said, Trillanes "should take responsibility and learn to man up and stop crying like a brat. See you in court, Senator."

Trillanes, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, is staying in the Senate to avoid any possible arrest after the President voided the amnesty granted to him in 2011. This is in connection with his involvement in mutiny attempts against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Supreme Court has left it to the discretion of the Makati Regional Trial Court if it will issue an alias arrest warrant and hold departure order against Trillanes, as requested by the Justice Department.

The President has said there will be no military arrest for Trillanes. But the soldier-turned-lawmaker said Armed Forces of the Philippines' arresting units told him he would be arrested and detained the moment he leaves Senate premises.

Trillanes also presented CCTV footage of supposed surveillance operations around his house, which Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed, saying he was just "paranoid."

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.