By Aaron Recuenco
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will not be arrested despite the issuance and eventual receipt of the police of copies of four arrest warrants in connection with the libel cases filed by former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law, Mans Carpio.
Director Guillermo Eleazar, head of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said Constitutional provision grants a senator or a congressman immunity from arrest for cases with imprisonment penalties of less than six years.
Eleazar was referring to Article VI Section 11 of the Constitution which states: “ A senator or a member of the House of Representatives shall in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment be privileged from arrest while Congress is in session.”
Libel carries imprisonment of from six months to four years.
“In this regard, our legal office at the NCRPO says that we have to abide by the Constitution,” said Eleazar.
He said they received on Saturday the copy of the four warrants issued by Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 54 under Judge Melinda Alconcel- Dayanghirang.
“We received the copy of the arrest warrant yesterday (Saturday) on our own initiative,” Eleazar told Manila Bulletin.
The arrest warrant stemmed from the libel charges filed by President Duterte’s son, Paolo, who opted to resign as Davao City vice mayor over the allegations of Trillanes linking him to the smuggling of hundreds of kilos of shabu.
The fourth arrest warrant on libel charge was based on the case filed by Carpio, the husband of Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, whom Trillanes also linked to drug smuggling.
Paolo Duterte denied the allegation and said it was part Trillanes’ effort to attack his father.
Trillanes was not in the Senate when police coordinated with the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms.
After a Makati City judge ordered the senator’s arrest warrant against Trillanes for the revival of the rebellion case against him, the NCRPO had coursed all communications to the Senate leadership, which turned over the senator to the police.
Trillanes was then holed up in the Senate premises. He returned to the Senate after posting bail and only went home when another Makati judge ruled in his favor on the revival of the separate coup d’etat case against him in connection with the Oakwood mutiny.
Eleazar acknowledged a member of the House and the Senate enjoys immunity from arrest during session, if the charge is punishable with less than six years of imprisonment.
Libel carries a penalty of from six months to four years imprisonment.
Eleazar said he is confident that everything will be settled on Monday, as he expects Trillanes to post bail. The Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 54 has set bail at P24,000.
He added that he also expects Trillanes to honor his word that he would coordinate with NCRPO with regard to the libel case.
Trillanes has been a vocal critic of President Duterte.
Eleazar said if Trillanes the Senator wants to turn himself to the police, “then we will get him from the Senate.”