Trillanes charged with grave threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — The Pasay City Prosecutor's Office has charged opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV with grave threat for allegedly threatening the life of a Labor undersecretary.

In a case filed before the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 47, Assistant City Prosecutor Janette Herpas-Baggas said Trillanes "creat[ed] fear and anxiety on the mind" of Labor undersecretary Jacinto "Jing" Paras when he told him, "Yayariin kita. Mercenaryo ka. Yayariin kita," which the Labor executive qualified in his complaint as "to kill."

The case stems from a complaint filed by Paras, a former Negros Oriental representative and a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), who claims to have been threatened by Trillanes when they faced off in the Senate premises in 2018.

Under Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code, a threat to kill a person is punishable by prision correccional or a jail term of six months and one day to six years. The charge is a bailable offense, where the accused may post a P36,000 bail, according to the 2018 Bail Bond Guide from the Department of Justice.

Trillanes' arraignment is set on February 15.

Reacting to the charge against him, Trillanes said justice under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been "turned upside down."

"Siya (Duterte) itong pinapatay mismo ang mga ordinaryong Pilipino, pinapa-rape ang mga babae sa mga sundalo, pinapa-kidnap at torture ang mga [Commission on Audit] auditors at pinapa-holdup ang mga bishops, tapos ako ang pinakasuhan nya ng grave threats sa mga bata nya? Baliw talaga," Trillanes said.

[Translation: He is the one who is killing ordinary Filipinos, orders soldiers to rape women, wants Commission on Audit auditors kidnapped and tortured, and urges priests and bishops to be mugged, and then I'm the one who is being sued for grave threats by his minions?]

But just the same, the senator said he would face the "harassment cases" against him squarely.

He has denied the supposed threats, which Paras claimed stemmed from the inciting to sedition case he and other VACC members filed against the senator for supposedly encouraging soldiers to shoot President Rodrigo Duterte if it is proven that he has hidden wealth.

Trillanes made the statement in a November 11, 2017 privilege speech, where he accused Duterte of having undeclared bank transactions amounting to P2 billion from 2006 to 2015. The supposed call to shoot the President stems from a dare from Duterte himself that anyone who finds his supposedly hidden wealth should shoot him.

READ: Ombudsman junks Trillanes' plunder case vs. Duterte

Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution grants lawmakers immunity from prosecution for anything they say in debates and speeches in Congress.

The grave threat and inciting to sedition charges against Trillanes are only some of the many legal battles hounding the staunch critic of President Duterte. The President revoked the senator's 2011 amnesty, reviving the already-junked rebellion and coup d'etat charges against him, and Duterte's son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte sued Trillanes for libel.

READ: Makati court denies Trillanes' plea over rebellion case

The VACC has filed several complaints against known Duterte critics, such as Trillanes and detained Senator Leila de Lima, and ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. In January, Paras was appointed to the Labor Department while VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez was appointed to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this story.