The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to comment on Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay’s petition asking that the lawmaker be cited for contempt for accusing two CA justices of receiving bribes in exchange for a ruling that stopped the mayor’s suspension.
In a two-page resolution dated May 6 but released only on Tuesday by the CA 11th Division, the court directed the senator to file his comment “within 10 days from receipt (of the directive).” The resolution was penned by Justice Stephen Cruz, with Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Melchor Sadang concurring.
Trillanes on Tuesday said his lawyers were preparing his formal answer to the CA, adding that he was “confident” about beating the contempt charge.
“I’m confident it would not prosper because it would be absurd for a lower court to cite a legislator for contempt for performing his oversight function of exposing an alleged bribery (or) corruption committed by a public official based on credible information,” the senator said.
Citing “reliable sources privy to the matter,” Trillanes, in an earlier Senate resolution, alleged that Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta received P25 million each from the Binay camp to stop the Makati mayor’s six months’ preventive suspension meted out by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Trillanes also alleged that lawyer Pancho Villaraza facilitated the transaction with the justices.
Reyes and Acosta vehemently denied Trillanes’ allegations, which Binay described as “baseless and sweeping” in a petition he later filed, asking the court to cite the senator for contempt.
“[I]n the face of respondent’s (Trillanes’) disrespectful act and unrelenting malicious attacks toward the court and its justices, there is a need for the court to protect and preserve its dignity and independence. It, therefore, behooves the court to cite respondent Trillanes for indirect contempt and mete out the appropriate punishment on him,” Binay’s petition stated.
A committee created by CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. is separately investigating Trillanes’ allegations.