Thinking Pinoy: The Duterte-Trillanes #BangkoSerye – Libel vs Perjury – Ep. 3, Apr. 29

April 29, 2016

The Duterte-Trillanes #BangkoSerye – Libel vs Perjury – Ep. 3, Apr. 29


With no affidavit, Duterte sue Trillanes for libel. With affidavit, Duterte can sue for perjury. What’s the difference?

April 28 Episode 2 Recap

 Previously, on the Duterte-Trillanes #BangkoSerye [TP: Episode 2 – April 28]:
  1. Duterte confirmed existence of BPI account in Julia Vargas.
  2. Duterte will sign waiver if Trillanes will provide sworn affidavit.
  3. Grace Poe adviser said this can become a potential ground for impeachment.
Feature Image (left to right): Senator Sonny Trillanes, PDP Laban Spokesperson Atty. Paula Alvarez, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

Morning, April 29: PDP-Laban and Trillanes Face-off

Ted Failon interviewed PDP-Laban spokesperson Atty. Paula Alvarez and Senator Sonny Trillanes.



Part of the conversation is as follows:

Alvarez: “Bubuksan po [ni Mayor Duterte] ang kanyang bank accounts pero dapat po, lahat ng statements at alegasyon po ni Senator Trillanes ay ilagay niya sa isang affidavit… dahil ayaw po naming naga-allege siya ng haka-haka, tapos sa huli ay hindi niya paninindigan.”

Failon: Payag daw po si Mayor Digong sa inyong hamon, mayroon lang silang hinihiling sa inyo…kung ito daw ay maibibigay ho n’yo… all set for Monday [na]. Are you ok [with that], Senator?

Trillanes: Ano po daw ang hinihingi nila?

Alvarez: Sabi po ni Mayor Duterte, for him to open the bank accounts, you should execute an affidavit attesting to all your claims, how you got them, and your sources, just so we can verify that they are true.

Trillanes: Okay, alam niyo yung hinihingi niyo, mga drama yan. Kahit ibigay ko yan, hindi niya bubuksan yan… Yung ating mga impormate, I will protect them. Kaya lumalabas ang impormasyon na ito ay alam nilang kaya ko silang proteksiyonan so hindi ko gagawin yan[g affidavit].

Alvarez: ….ang hindi po naming maintindihan ay kung bakit kayo takot mag-execute ng affidavit. Mabilis lang naman po iyan. You only type it down, swear an oath, go to a notary… para lang po na ma-verify na totoo. Yung sinasabi niyo po na kaya niyong proteksiyonan ang inyong mga tao, opo naniniwala po kami, wala naman pong harm na pupunta sa kanila. Hindi po nag-eexist ang million-peso account, iyon po an aming sinasabi… Bakit po natin ito-tolerate… [Bakit hindi po natin sundin ang batas?].

Trillanes: (reiterates accusations)

Alvarez: You are going after our heads with unverified information. Yung sa amin po, iyong paghingi naming ng affidavit, ito ay para magkaroon kayo ng imprimatur ng law, kung mayroon kayong sabihing hindi totoo under oath, mayroon pong repercussions yan under sa batas kasi po yung sinasabi niyo… pag hindi ka under oath, wala pong consequences…kaya kailangan po naming malamang na sumusumpa kayo sa batas na totoo ang inyong sinasabi.

PDP-Laban confirmed March was addressed only to the Central Bank and not BPI, confirmed that it may not have been applicable to the BPI account.


Late Morning, April 29: Libel vs Perjury


At this point, it’s pretty clear that Trillanes violated the Bank Secrecy Law (RA 1045), especially since he admitted that he did not use a waiver to gather data, and that he publicly disseminated the data while not under parliamentary immunity.

Thus, TP is curious as to why Duterte camp insists that Trillanes execute an affidavit. Hindi ba pwedeng mag waive na lang agad para tapos na? But then, on the flip side, executing an affidavit isn’t very difficult, so TP doesn’t understand why Trillanes won’t do it either.

Investigating further, however, it appears that there’s a reason behind it for both parties. But before I explain, let me clarify that it’s over if Trillanes accusations are true, i.e. that affidavit won’t matter.

Thus, for the sake of argument, let’s assume for the moment that his accusations are false.

With no sworn affidavit, the best that Duterte can do is sue Trillanes for libel. With an affidavit, Duterte can sue Trillanes for perjury.

Now the question is... what’s the difference?

Scenario A: If Duterte sues Trillanes for libel

There are 4 essential elements of libel [SC GR 172203]
  1. The imputation must be defamatory
  2. The imputation must be made publicly
  3. The person defamed must be identifiable
  4. The imputation must be malicious
In a prospective Duterte vs. Trillanes libel case, the first three elements are easily met. The fourth element, however, is a bit tricky. The law presumes malice is present in every defamatory imputation [AbogadoMo], however, this does not exactly apply if the plaintiff is a public official or public figure which, in this case, is Duterte.

For libel cases where plaintiffs are public officials, the law requires the prosecution to prove actual malice, or “[Trillanes] must have known that the speech was false, or he must have been recklessly indifferent to its truth or falsity [SC GR 128959]”.

But this may easily be denied by Trillanes because he regularly points to his “secret sources”. That is, Trillanes may say that the accusations are true to the best of his knowledge, even if they are, in fact, false.

In short, Trillanes will most likely be acquitted if sued for libel.



Scenario B: If Duterte sues Trillanes for perjury

Meanwhile, the 4 essential elements of perjury are [SC GR 192565]:
  1. That the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter.
  2. That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath.
  3. That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose.
  4. That in that statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood.
The first three elements are a given, as we have assumed the execution of Trillanes affidavit, with the legal purpose being the verification of bank transactions. Now, we have earlier assumed, for the sake of argument, that Trillanes’ accusations are false, so that may automatically trigger the fourth element.

Basically, it’s a lot easier for Duterte to send Trillanes to prison if the charge is perjury.
But then again, this assumes that Trillanes’ accusations are false. What TP does not understand, however, is why Trillanes remains stubborn despite his claim that his accusations are verified and true.

Parang may hindi tama.

Early Afternoon, April 29: More Accusations


The Inquirer reports that Trillanes called for a press conference. Trillanes showed the media a brown envelope that purportedly contains details of bank accounts that belong to Duterte and his three children. The transactions, totaling P2.4 billion and involving 17 bank accounts in 3 banks, were recorded over a 9-year period, according to the Senator [ABSCBN].

As a regular Filipino, TP’s automatic reaction was “Okay wow ang laki ng P2.4 billion, pero wait muna Trillanes, patunayan mo muna ‘yong una mong bintang.”
Late Afternoon, April 29: Duterte shows bank balance

TV5 reporter Jun Loyola showed a copy of Duterte’s BPI bank statement, showing a balance of P 27,000 and that the account had no transactions since December 2015.





Duterte supporters were quick to rejoice over this development. However, the fact remains that Trillanes’ accusations involved transactions 2014. Thus, this piece of evidence hardly says anything.

Duterte agreed to bare details of his BPI-Julia Vargas bank account on Monday, 02 May 2016, on the condition that Trillanes brings with him a sworn affidavit [ABSCBN].

“Sana po panindigan din po ni Senator Trillanes na ilagay niya po lahat yung kanyang accusations sa affidavit para pag nakita po niya na hindi yun totoo, harapin po niya yung legal repercussions," Alvarez said.

Alvarez also finds it odd that the alleged massive transactions, if real, did not trigger an AMLC investigation.

"Kasi sobrang laki nung sinasabi niyang allegation, dapat po ni-report yan ng BPI sa AMLC," Alvarez said.

Please note that TP is not quoting Trillanes as heavily because his accusations and statements pretty much remain the same, i.e. no new information.

Evening, April 29: BPI speaks up


Some Duterte supporters called for a bank run after fears that their confidential bank data may be leaked in the same way [Rappler].

In response, Jose Teodoro Limcaoco, managing director and chief financial officer of Ayala Corporation, said BPI did not violate any laws. Ayala Corporation owns BPI [Rappler].

"I don't know where Sen. Trillanes got his information, but the graphic posted by the [Philippine Daily] Inquirer showing alleged credits, that is not a BPI document," Limcaoco, who used to serve as the president of BPI Family Savings Bank, said in a mobile phone reply.

Final Note

At this point, I see it as a virtual tie. Other than that, there’s nothing we can do right now except to wait for Monday when the banks re-open. That’s it.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

UPDATE: 


At dahil sadya akong usisero, heto ang April 30 update sa Libel vs Perjury:

#BangkoSerye: Bakit Affidavit? Duterte and Trillanes, Libel and Perjury

 (TP)



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