Malacañang had distanced from an ongoing tiff between former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and his lawyer Jude Sabio, who filed the case against President Rodrigo Duterte at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Yet, the President’s spokesman Salvador Panelo doubts the claim of both men that the ICC case was pro-bono and as the cause of the rift between both was money.
Both personalities had a falling out over the P700,000 Sabio claimed Trillanes owes him for services rendered to self-confessed Davao death squad member Edgar Matobato who had linked the President to extrajudicial killings in Davao in 2016.
Sabio also said Trillanes, one of the administration’s most vocal critics, could have a “deep involvement” in the controversial “Ang Totoong Narcolist” (The Real Narcolist) viral videos which narrated the supposed connection of the President, his family and a supposed inner power circle to the illegal drugs trade.
“It’s between him (Trillanes) and Sabio,” Panelo said during a Palace briefing yesterday.
“First, according to Mr. Trillanes, he’s pro bono and yet he admits having paid him P30,000 plus. So that removes the pro bono aspect. Number two, as to the claim of Mr. Sabio, I watched that particular interview, it’s like he was saying he was only speculating that he (Trillanes) might be involved. And his reason is, ‘Why is he getting me as his lawyer for this man if he is not involved?’ That’s the reasoning of Mr. Sabio. So, we don’t know how true it is,” he added.
Panelo went on by implying he could not reconcile how Trillanes can say Sabio’s legal services were for free when he admitted to paying the lawyer a retainer’s fee of P30,000.
“Well, for one, only with respect to Mr. Trillanes’ claim it is pro bono, and yet he admits that he pays 30,000 plus.…It means the other one is the more credible because he said ‘No, I’d been employed that’s why I’m demanding payment,’” said the Palace official.
It turned out, based on the recounting of Sabio, that the posting on social media of the series of videos was a Trillanes project.
The lawyer also claimed that he told Trillanes not to get involved with Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who was identified to the media as “Bikoy,” the narrator in the said videos, because he felt it was a “trap”.
The former lawmaker has already issued a statement denying Sabio’s assertions.
“The other one is more credible with respect to that aspect. With the others, I don’t know,” he concluded.