Trillanes slapped with another libel rap for linking Duterte, son to drugs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — Presidential son and former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte filed another libel complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday.

This time, it's for linking him and his father, President Rodrigo Duterte to drugs.

The younger Duterte in his complaint said Trillanes should be held criminally liable for calling him and the President "illegal drug smugglers" in connection with the P6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment that slipped into the country in May 2017. Libel is punishable with up to six months imprisonment under the Revised Penal Code.

"Worse, respondent has also defamed and labeled me and my father as 'principal actors' in the illegal drug trade in Davao City," Paolo Duterte said. The case was filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Davao City.

Paolo Duterte attached a transcript of Trillanes' phone interview with CNN Philippines' Senior Anchor and Correspondent Pinky Webb last June 14.

He dismissed Trillanes' claims as "black propaganda," saying they are "downright false, baseless and unfounded" and based on hearsay.

In the interview, Trillanes cited claims made by Customs fixer Mark Taguba, who testified in legislative hearings that the so-called "Davao Group" had been asking brokers for bribes to hasten the release of shipments at the Bureau of Customs, dropping the names of Paolo Duterte and brother-in-law Mans Carpio.

Taguba later clarified he was not implicating the two members of the presidential family but was only saying that their names were mentioned by members of the "Davao Group" whom he knew only by their aliases.

Trillanes also mentioned claims of former police officer Arturo Lascañas that the President and his son were behind the so-called "Davao Death Squad" which killed personal and political rivals of the Dutertes. Trillanes said Lascañas, not him, was the first to implicate the younger Duterte to the drug trade.

The newest complaint comes after Trillanes on Tuesday took a swipe at Paolo Duterte, saying he should have filed a libel case over the senator's claims the younger Duterte is part of a Chinese drug triad organization. But the resigned vice mayor said he was prevented from doing so since Trillanes made the statement during a Senate hearing, meaning the senator has legislative immunity.

Trillanes said he is ready to fly to Davao City to answer the complaints filed against him before its prosecutor's office which had ordered him to file a counter-affidavit within 10 days.

The two libel complaints were for Trillanes' September 2017 claims that the younger Duterte and Carpio extorted money from ride-hailing firms.

Trillanes, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, is also facing possible arrest as the Makati Regional Trial Court hears the Justice Department's petition for a warrant and hold departure order against him. This is after President Duterte voided the amnesty granted to him in 2011 for his involvement in mutiny attempts against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.