By Ed Velasco/Manila Times
The Eastern Police District yesterday said it was ready to arrest Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th who is said to be in Mandaluyong City.
Trillanes is facing arrest after the Davao City Regional Trial Court 54 issued an arrest warrant last December 7 on four counts of libel under a complaint filed by former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s son, in September.
In case the senator is arrested, he has two options — post bail of P96,000 or go to jail. Trillanes is expected to leave today for a three-country Europe tour until January 10, 2019.
In February, the senator will fly to the US for a three-week vacation.
The Manila Times made several calls and text messages to the district director, Chief Supt. Bernabe Balba, and the Mandaluyong police chief, Senior Supt. Moises Villaceran Jr., but none of them replied.
A police source said the senator might be arrested today and post bail.
“He will be found,” the source, who belongs to the PNP brass, said.
But Guillermo Eleazar, National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) Police Office (NCRPO) chief, yesterday said the police would follow the Constitution in the case of Trillanes, who had invoked his constitutional privilege of immunity from arrest while the Senate is in session.
“In this regard, our legal office at the NCRPO says we have to abide by the Constitution,” Eleazar added.
According to him, police cannot arrest Trillanes since the lawmaker had made assurances that he would be posting bail and, as guaranteed by the Constitution, no arrest should be done if the penalty for the offence is not more than six years.
“Why should we contradict the Constitution then? So, we will just have to wait,” Eleazar said.
Malacanang yesterday said Trillanes was not excused from prosecution and should instead face squarely the four warrants of arrest ordered by a Davao City court against him. Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Trillanes described the justice system under the Duterte administration as “topsy-turvy.”
“Instead of facing this squarely, however, the Senator from Bicol ranted and released a fiery statement before the media attacking the administration, as his usual style,” Panelo said in a statement.
“Senator Trillanes is certainly out of his wits.
His latest remarks prove once and for all that he is an incorrigible rabble-rouser and perennial whiner, a false accuser who, when hailed to court, cries like a baby reminiscent of staging a coup and surrenders instantly even without a gun being fired from the government forces,” he added. Panelo said Trillanes should focus on the legal remedies available to him instead of attacking the administration.
“Everyone must be accountable for any wrongdoing or infraction of any law. His being a senator cannot excuse him from prosecution from those he has wronged. Instead of employing squid tactics and smearing the administration, he should focus on the legal remedies available to him,” he added.
It will be the second time that the senator, a former Philippine Navy officer, will face arrest.
Trillanes recently paid a P200,000 travel bond at a Makati City court after it junked a government’s request to issue a hold-departure order against him.
Earlier, Eleazar said the NCRPO had secured a copy of the arrest warrant against the senator.
The NCRPO chief added that any police unit in the country could arrest Trillanes.
“In his media statement, Senator Trillanes said he is willing to turn himself in today so he can post bail. As such, we shall be co-ordinating with the office of the Senate sergeant at arms on this matter,” Eleazar said in a statement yesterday.
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