SC allows P5-million civil suit vs Trillanes over “Hacienda Binay dummy” remark vs businessman

(Eagle News) — The Supreme Court has denied Senator Antonio Trillanes’ bid for the dismissal of a P5-million civil suit filed against him by a businessman he had called a “dummy” owner of what he called the “Hacienda Binay” estate in Batangas.

In denying Trillanes’ petition for certiorari,  the High Court’s first division effectively affirmed the orders of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 101 Judge Evangeline Castillo-Marigomen that allowed businessman Antonio Tiu to file the suit against Trillanes, who called him a dummy of former Vice President Jejomar Binay in media interviews.

Tiu, who said he was legitimate businessman, has maintained that the property was his.

“A lawmaker’s participation in media interviews is not a legislative act, but is ‘political in nature,’ outside the ambit of the immunity conferred under the Speech or Debate Clause in the 1987 Constitution…Contrary to petitioner’s stance, therefore, he cannot invoke parliamentary immunity to cause the dismissal of private respondent’s complaint,” the First Division said.

It added the courts had jurisdiction over the case.

Associate Justices Teresita de Castro,  Francis Jardeleza and Mariano del Castillo concurred.