Trillanes faces inciting to sedition charges over privilege speech

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 15) — Prosecutors say a speech delivered by Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV is enough proof to charge him with inciting to sedition.

This was the decision made Thursday based on a complaint filed by several lawyers who said Trillanes' October 3 privilege speech allegedly urged soldiers to kill President Rodrigo Duterte.

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

The resolution filed at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Pasay City quoted Trillanes saying, "So ito ngayon sagot. Kung makikita 'to ng mga sundalo, M60 machine gun ang gagamitin sa ýo. Marami-rami ito, mauubos magazine kung ₱40 million hinahanap mo, Mr. Duterte."

[Translation provided: So here's the answer now. If the soldiers could see this, they will use the M60 machine gun on you. These are many. The magazines will be emptied if you're looking to P40 million, Mr. Duterte.]

According to the Revised Penal Code, a person charged with inciting sedition is someone who "without taking any direct part in the crime of sedition, should incite others to the accomplishment of any of the acts which constitute sedition, by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, cartoons, banners, or other representations tending to the same end."

According to the resolution, Trillanes said his privilege speech was covered by his "parliamentary immunity as a Senator."

It added, "He argues that any statement made by a Senator in a privilege speech before the Senate Floor, even if assuming for the sake of argument that the same are libelous or seditious as the complainants are claiming, cannot be the basis of a criminal or civil action before the courts of justice."

Trillanes had moved to have the complaint dismissed, saying there was not enough evidence to support it.

City prosecutors however, disagreed saying the speech was not covered by parliamentary immunity.

It said, under their jurisdiction "the privilege of speech and debate enable the legislator to express views in the interest of the public without fear of accountability to support his statements with the usual evidence required in the court of justice."

It added two requirements must be met for such privilege to be used: remarks must be made while legislature is in session, and they must be made in connection with the discharge of official duties.

They said that while the first requirement was met, the second was not.

"To say the least, the speech was purely an attack to the President and his family," they said.

The prosecutors explained a video of the speech was uploaded YouTube, a rally was staged, and various other statements and releases led them to believe that Trillanes sought to sow the the seeds of sedition in people's minds.

Trillanes responded to the case, saying, "Hindi gaya ni Duterte na duwag humarap sa kaso, haharapin ko ito."

[Translation: Unlike Duterte who is too cowardly to face a case, I will face this.]

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He added, "Maliwanag na baluktot at panggigipit itong kasong ito na nakabase sa privilege speech ko sa Senado na bukod na sa merong constitutionally guaranteed immunity from suit, ay wala akong inincite na kung sino to do anything. Kung ang pakay nito ay takutin ako para umatras ako sa pagpuna kay Duterte, well, sabi ko nga dati pa, lalo pa akong ginaganahan tumayo laban sa mali at masama."

[Translation: it is clear that this case is crooked and is based on my Senate privilege speech which besides having constitutionally guaranteed immunity from suit, is that I am not inciting anyone to do anything. if their purpose is to scare me into retreating from calling out Duterte, well, as I've said before, I am more encouraged to stand against wrongdoings and evil.]

Presidential Spokespeson Harry Roque said they respect the findings of the Pasay City Prosecutor.

CNN Philippines senior digital producer Pia Garcia contributed to this story.