Palace distances from sedition raps vs. Trillanes, 10 others

Palace distances from sedition raps vs. Trillanes, 10 others

MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday said it would not interfere with the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to charge former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and 10 others for their supposed involvement in an alleged ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As a matter of policy the President does not interfere in any proceeding involving the departments,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Aside from Trillanes, also charged were Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who introduced himself as “Bikoy” in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos released during the 2019 election campaign period; Jonnel P. Sangalang, Yolanda Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Vicente R. Romano III, film actor Joel Saracho, Eduardo Acierto, publicist Boom Enriquez, and a certain “Monique”.

The complaint alleged that Trillanes and the others are involved in “circulating malicious and scurrilous libels and fabricating evidence against him and his immediate family members, making it appear that the president and his family are engaged in a drug trade syndicate, with no other purpose but to inflict an act of hate or revenge against the president and his immediate family members.”

“If that is the finding of the Department of Justice as he keeps on saying, let the law take its course,” Panelo said.

While Trillanes’ sedition rap stays, the DOJ dismissed the sedition complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and seven of the Otso Diretso candidates namely former Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Samira Gutoc, former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, and former Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.

Also cleared of charges were Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines vice president and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, former CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., former Education secretary Armin Luistro and Fr. Ruben Reyes among others.

Panelo rejected claims made by Robredo that the DOJ’s junking of the sedition case filed against her and other members of the opposition showed that it was based on “blatant lies and politicking.”

In her personal Twitter account, Robredo welcomed the move, stressing that the DOJ found no evidence against her.

“We never engage in politics,” Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said.

“Those investigating prosecutors know their task to find the probable cause if the evidence presented to them does not show the risk then they have no other alternative than to dismiss the case,” he added.

Panelo, meanwhile, pointed out that Trillanes and 10 others who are still facing sedition charges may easily avail of legal remedies.

“They have the opportunity to defend themselves. Again, the President says let the law take its course. There are remedies available to them, they should avail of them,” Panelo said.

In April last year, the ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’ videos were released during the 2019 election campaign period linking the President and his family to the illegal drug trade.

Advincula later claimed to be Bikoy and surrendered to authorities saying that the videos were released as part of the so-called Project Sodoma, which was allegedly hatched to discredit administration candidates during the May 13, 2019 elections.

He also claimed that he met Trillanes through Father Alejo.

Bikoy also said Trillanes and the Liberal Party promised him PHP500,000 in exchange for his “act” but they failed to fulfill it until after the election on May 13 where none of the opposition bets won. Azer Parrocha / PNA –