MANILA - Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday said he would seek legal remedies against lawyer Jude Sabio for accusing him of failure to pay legal fees and discontinued allowances.
Sabio on Tuesday withdrew his communication before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Rodrigo Duterte, saying the opposition only used him to further its propaganda.
He also claimed Trillanes failed to pay him close to P700,000 in legal fees for lawyering for Edgar Matobato, a confessed member of a Davao City-based death squad and whose accounts were at the core of the ICC complaint.
Trillanes, however, said the money he gave to Sabio, amounting to P75,000 to P100,000 per month during his time as senator, was only assistance that he cannot maintain after his term ended in June last year.
"This whole episode is about weakness of character. He doesn’t have the moral fortitude to pursue this cause and it’s unfortunate," he told ANC's Early Edition.
"Sabio never mentioned anything about the administration reaching out to him. His money problems were a vulnerability and they were able to get to him."
The former senator added that he was never Sabio's client and that the latter was approached as a pro bono lawyer for Matobato.
"I never promised him anything. But he’s claiming I’ve been giving him retainers for so many months. If so, then he becomes my lawyer and what he’s doing now is actually a violation of lawyer-client privilege. He has to make up his mind," Trillanes said.
"He can be disbarred for divulging or breaking that confidentiality."
Trillanes also pointed out that lawyer Larry Gadon, who assisted in Sabio's withdrawal of communication at the ICC, represented Davao-based businesswoman Guillermina Barrido in her kidnapping complaint against Sabio and the former senator among others.
"Gadon is the lawyer of one of those accusing us of kidnapping her along with Jude Sabio. That’s a very awkward picture," he said.
Sabio's withdrawal of his communication is irrelevant as the ICC prosecutor has initiated its own preliminary examination into information forwarded by those who filed cases against Duterte, Trillanes said.
"None of the communications filed are relevant because everything would be redone by Office of Prosecutor once they have initiated the investigation," he said.
"That's the thing that Atty. Sabio fails to understand--that there are no lawyers for any complainant here. Once the Office of the Prosecutor would initiate the investigation then it becomes their jurisdiction and part of their mandate to pursue the whole thing independently."
The ICC has said Sabio's withdrawal would have “no impact on the ongoing preliminary examination.”
“During the preliminary examination, the relevant assessment conducted by the Office is based on information available from wide range of a reliable sources. The Office is notably not limited by the information or allegations contained in individual communications received under article 15 of the Rome Statute,” it said.