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Trash-talking Trillanes

WHERE I STAND / Ed Javier

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is up to his old tricks again. Seemingly hell-bent on arresting the rise of Vice President Jejomar Binay in the presidential polls, the legislator let loose with another barrage of irresponsible statements notable only for their utter lack of propriety and restraint.

In his usual style of shooting his mouth off, the former Navy lieutenant and failed coup plotter alleged that the Binay family paid the justices in the Court of Appeals Sixth Division in exchange for stopping the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order against Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.

“One of these days, we will expose them. Who had fronted for them, who they had talked to, how much they paid. Eventually, we will bring that all out,” griped Trillanes who initiated the Senate inquiry into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

But instead of presenting solid evidence that will stand up in a court of law, the legislator only disclosed that he had received information that the Binays spent “big money” to get the appellate-court injunction favoring the younger Binay.

In other words, the senator relied on chismis to back up his claim that the judges were bought. Why a senator of the Republic would dignify unverified information and dish it out as gospel truth speaks volumes about Trillanes’s character.

If Trillanes really has the goods on Binay, then he should file graft and corruption charges against the appellate court justices whom he claims were fixed. But if he cannot prove his allegations, he should shut up and stop destroying the reputation of the Court of Appeals.

Trillanes apparently cannot get over his annoyance at the move of the appellate court’s Sixth Division enjoining the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government from enforcing the Ombudsman’s March 10 order preventively suspending Mayor Binay for six months.

The court had earlier issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the mayor’s suspension, a move the Ombudsman claimed was moot as the suspension order had been served and Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. had been sworn in as acting mayor.

While we admit that corruption does exist in the judicial branch, Trillanes’ sweeping accusation without any factual proof against the CA justices of the Sixth Division was grossly unfair. We cannot tolerate this sort of behavior, even from an elected public official.

What is more worrisome, though, is that Trillanes’ bullying tactics to undermine the Court appear to be purely motivated by partisan politics. Long after we are all gone, where can ordinary people seek redress and protection if we have destroyed our democratic institutions?

The Court of Appeals cannot just let this pass. Trillanes’ allegations are a direct affront and challenge to the integrity of the institution. If the Court can suspend an ordinary lawyer, then it must show that the law applies to all and impose disciplinary action on this erring legislator.

The judiciary should not allow its foundations to be damaged by irresponsible accusations from a member of a co-equal branch of government, least of all from a non-lawyer. The interpretation of the law is best left to legal experts.

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments tomorrow, April 14, on the Ombudsman’s petition against Mayor Binay’s plea in the CA to stop his suspension. As the final arbiter when it comes to matters concerning the law, the SC will have the last say on this issue.

Everybody deserves his day in court. This is a basic tenet in a democratic society. The pillars of justice are not the pillars of the Peninsula Hotel that Trillanes and his ilk can just smash to the ground as they tried to do in their unsuccessful grab for power now known as the Manila Peninsula siege of 2007.

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