Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocal anti-government figure, has been indicted for conspiracy to commit sedition along with 10 other people, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today.
Trillanes’ case stems from the controversial viral video Ang Totoong Narco List (“The Real Narco List”) which first appeared on YouTube in April 2019. In it, a hooded figure named Bikoy, who claims to be a former drug syndicate member, alleges that the president’s son, Congressman Paolo Duterte; his close confidant, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go; and his son-in-law, Manases Carpio, receive millions from the illegal drug trade.
Shortly after the videos’ release, a man named Peter Advincula appeared in public and claimed to be the real-life Bikoy. At first, he stood by the allegations made in the video but later changed his tune, claiming they were part of an elaborate plot masterminded by Trillanes and other people to destroy President Rodrigo Duterte. He also alleged that Trillanes and his cohorts promised to pay him PHP500,000 (US$9,517) for his services and reward him with a government position.
Advincula’s testimony became the basis for the DOJ’s indictment of Trillanes, as well as his alleged conspirators: Jonnel Sangalang, public relations boss Yolanda Villanueva Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Robert Alejo, Vicente Romano III, Joel Saracho, former top cop Eduardo Acierto, Boom Enriquez, and a certain “Monique.” Adinvula was also named in the indictment, which was filed before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court, the Philippine Star reports.
Advincula also accused Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Leila de Lima, Senator Risa Hontiveros, former Senator Bam Aquino, former Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, and senatorial candidates Erin Tañada, Chel Diokno, and Florin Hilbay of conspiring with Trillanes, but the DOJ cleared them of alleged involvement, Rappler reports.
The DOJ said they charged Trillanes and the others with violating Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code based on the following “interlocking pieces of proof”:
- The Ang Totoong Narco List videos
- Advincula’s press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines where he alleged that the videos’ allegations against Duterte’s allies were true
- Acierto’s March 2019 statement where he alleged that a high-ranking Duterte adviser was involved in the drug trade
- Advincula’s testimony in which he changed his tune and said the videos were produced by Trillanes
In a statement released on social media, Trillanes appeared to be in fighting form, speaking out against the case and linking it to efforts to terminate ABS-CBN’s franchise, saying both are part of a broader government effort to silence dissent.
“This latest absurd case is but another proof that the Duterte administration continues to weaponize the law against the political opposition, critics and the media,” Trillanes said. “But let me assure Mr. Duterte that we will not be cowed by such political persecution. On the contrary, we are more determined and motivated to continue our fight for democracy and the rights of our people.”