Lawyers set to file criminal cases vs. Trillanes for alleged remarks to kill the President

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — Lawyers on Thursday said they are set to file several criminal charges against an opposition senator for allegedly encouraging the military to kill President Rodrigo Duterte.

The group of lawyers who are affiliated with the anti-crime watchdog Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption said a statement made by Senator Sonny Trillanes is tantamount to inciting to sedition.

The lawyers believe the senator's statement is a threat that should be taken seriously. They said the charges will be filed before the Department of Justice after the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings end next week.

"Very clear 'yung motibo niya na gusto niya magkaroon tayo ng chaos dito sa Pilipinas at ineenganyo niya ang militar natin na gumawa ng hindi karapat dapat sa ating demokrasya," Attorney Nasser Marohomsalic said.

[Translation: His motive is clear. He wants chaos in the country. He is inciting the military to ruin our democracy.]

In a privilege speech on October 3, the senator accused the President of harboring P2-billion in unexplained wealth. Trillanes then quoted the president's statement giving soldiers the right to shoot him if they see that he has more than P40 million in his bank accounts.

"Naku, kung makikita ito ng mga sundalo, M-16 na machine gun ang gagamitin sa iyo kasi marami-rami ito. Mauubos iyong magazine kung 40 million pesos ang hinahanap mo, Mr. Duterte," Trillanes said in his privilege speech.

[Translation: If only the soldiers can see, you'd use M-16 rifles because there are too many. You will run out of magazine if you are looking for P40 million, Mr. Duterte.]

The Constitution, however, protects lawmakers from suit for any speech made in Congress, but the lawyers believe this immunity is not absolute.

"Even if you look at the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission in 1986 and US jurisprudence, if you use your speech to commit a crime especially against the government. then you are not protected," another lawyer with the group Attorney Manny Luna said.

Trillanes, a staunch critic of the President and his administration, welcomed the lawyers' move to file charges, since this would allow him to demand the bank documents of the President.

"No matter how absurd these cases may seem, I actually welcome them because, as part of my legal defense, I would be able to prove my claim on Duterte's ill-gotten wealth. Specifically, I would be able to ask the court to subpoena his bank documents as an exemption to the Bank Secrecy Law," he said in a message.

He has called on the President to sign a bank waiver.