No parliamentary immunity! SC green-lights Trillanes trial in P5M damage suit
The Supreme Court allowed the Quezon City regional trial court to try the P5-million damage suit filed against opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes for accusing a businessman as former vice president Jejomar Binay’s dummy in the purchase of the once controversial “Hacienda Binay,” a 150-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas.
This as the SC junked Trillanes’ petition seeking the reversal of the resolutions issued by Judge Evangeline Castillo-Marigomen of the QC RTC Branch 1010, who denied his motion to dismiss the civil suit filed by complainant Antonio Tiu, and his motion for reconsideration.
The SC held that Trillanes cannot invoke parliamentary immunity to escape prosecution for damages over the statements he gave to mediamen in October 2014 accusing Tiu as a mere dummy of the former vice president.
Tiu claimed ownership of Hacienda Binay through his company Sunchamp Real Estate Corporation (Sunchamp).
Trillanes further explained that his statements were protected d by his constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and freedom of expression and of the press considering that these were made as part of an ongoing public debate of a matter of public concern.
Trillanes also insisted that his statements, having been made in the course of his duties as Senators, are covered by his parliamentary immunity under Article VI, Section II of the 1987 Constitution.
But the SC did not give credence to Trillanes claimed that there is a clear threat to his parliamentary immunity as well as his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression in justifying his decision to immediately sought relief from the Court.