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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Court of Appeals (CA) on Monday (May 22) found Sen. Antonio Trillanes guilty of indirect contempt and fined him P30,000 for claiming that two members of the bench received bribes in exchange for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of dismissed Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.

Binay was suspended, and eventually dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for his alleged involvement in the construction of the controversial Makati Cityhall parking building.

When the court issued a TRO against the suspension order, before Binay was dismissed from office by the Ombudsman, Trillanes openly told members of the media in early April 2015 that the justices of the CA are corrupt. Trillanes also claimed two members of court received bribes "in tranches" from Binay, in exchange of the TRO.

In a petition for contempt he filed before the CA, Binay said Trillanes “publicly and maliciously imputed that the honorable court is corrupt,” and that it “adheres to ‘pera-pera’ system [bribe system].”The court cited a transcript of one of Trillanes’ media interviews at the height of the Senate probe on corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family.

Trillanes, a staunch critic of the vice president, actively participated in the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee investigation.

Trillanes also warned the CA justices he would filed charges against them if the vice president loses his bid for presidency.

“Kaya itong mga CA justices na ‘yan na nagkasama dyan sa decision na ‘yan, manalangin na lang sila na ang manalong president ay si Vice President Binay,” the court quoted Trillanes as saying.

[Translation: The CA justices involved in that decision (to issue the TRO) should pray that Vice President Binay win the presidential race.]

A senator is not above the law The court rejected Trillanes’ explanations that he was merely doing his job as a senator when he made those statements. The court said the senator failed to show that he was then exercising his lawmaking functions and therefore covered by parliamentary immunity.

“Truly, he was a senator when he made those malicious and baseless imputations against this Court and some of its Justices. His position, however, does not suffice to exculpate him from liability,” the court said.

The court said that it was “crystal clear the respondent (Trillanes) was not in the exercise of his official function as a senator and as a legislator when he made those imputations against this court,” the CA said. “Accordingly, he cannot be saved by his claim of parliamentary immunity and the doctrine of absolutely privileged communications.”

The Court said it is duty-bound to protect and preserve the dignity of the court, the solemnity of the proceedings, “and the administration of justice from callous misbehavior, offensive personalities, and contumacious refusal to comply with court orders.”

The CA added Trillanes’ "malicious allegations" remain baseless and unsubstantiated until now.

Trillanes said he will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

“As far as I'm concerned, I merely performed my duty as a senator of the republic in exposing corruption in government,” he said in a statement. “More importantly, the allegation was not made through a press statement but was, in fact, the principal subject of a Senate resolution calling for a legislative inquiry.”

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario and Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.

Sources:
Article: CNN Philippines
Image: 
(File photo) Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV

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