MANILA - The Davao City Prosecutor's Office has ordered opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to answer libel charges that President Rodrigo Duterte's son, former Davao city vice mayor Paolo Duterte, filed against him over extortion allegations.
Speaking to reporters, Trillanes, who has been holed up at the Senate since the President voided his 2011 amnesty, said he received notice to respond to the charges in 10 days.
"Kahapon nakareceive kami ng notice sa prosecutor ng Davao na pinapabigay kami ng counteraffidavit within 10 days," Trillanes told reporters Tuesday.
(Yesterday we received notice from the Davao prosecutor giving us 10 days to file a counteraffidavit.)
The younger Duterte had filed the charges after the senator, a fierce administration critic, alleged him and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio in a radio interview last year that they had extorted money from ride-hailing firms.
The charges came just a few days after the President issued his proclamation nullifying Trillanes' amnesty, reviving coup d'etat and rebellion charges against him for leading uprisings against government in 2003 and 2007.
The Department of Justice has asked two branches of the Makati Regional Trial Court to issue an arrest warrant and hold departure order against the senator.
Trillanes, who has not left his Senate office since Duterte's void order was made public on Sept. 4, said the libel case was a strategy to lure him out of the Senate.
"Very obvious 'yung gusto nilang gawin: dadalhin sa teritoryo nila, mang-iimpluwensya sila," Trillanes said, alleging that Davao City judges receive "special allowances" from the city government headed by the younger Duterte's sister and Carpio's wife, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
(What they want to do is very obvious: they want to bring the case to their territory where they can influence people.)
"It's very, very obvious na talagang naghahanap ng paraan to shake me down, to harass me, pero haharapin po natin 'yan," he said.
(It's very, very obvious that they are looking for ways to shake me down, to harass me, but I will face these charges.)
Trillanes said his legal team is studying if they should file a motion to transfer the case to another court.
The lawmaker's tiff with Carpio and Duterte started last year after the senator alleged that they were involved in the illegal drug trade.
The younger Duterte resigned as vice mayor on Christmas day last year citing "recent unfortunate events in my life that are closely tied to my failed first marriage."
He also cited Trillanes' allegations of his supposed involvement in smuggling.