The Philippines’ Department of Justice (DOJ) announced yesterday that they’re looking for Bikoy, a self-confessed former drug syndicate member who has appeared in the viral YouTube series Ang Totoong Narco List (The Real Narco List). The DOJ also said that they’re hunting down the producers of the videos.
Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday that the DOJ’s Office of Cybercrime has already started an investigation to identify the producers of Ang Totoong Narco List, reported GMA News. The DOJ is investigating the case in partnership with the National Bureau of Investigation’s cybercrime division.
“The criminal charges would depend on the acts committed. The fact-finding team may look, for instance, if there is a basis for the filing of a cyber libel complaint,” Guevarra told The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
When asked if the DOJ will file sedition charges against Bikoy — who’s using an alias — and the videos’ producers once they are identified, Guevarra said that he would leave the Office of Cybercrime division to decide if it’s necessary, reported Journal Online.
The DOJ’s announcement comes after Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that they’re hunting down Bikoy, whom he said could possibly be committing cyber libel by alleging that presidential son Paolo Duterte, presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio, and former special assistant to the president Bong Go are receiving millions of pesos from the illegal drug trade.
The Bikoy controversy reached a new dramatic chapter yesterday after a newspaper with links to the administration, the Manila Times, published an “association matrix” which alleged that the videos of Ang Totoong Narco List were allegedly being distributed to Rappler and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) by veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas, the president of non-profit news organization Vera Files.
The Manila Times said they received the matrix from a “highly-placed source” in President Rodrigo Duterte’s office.
The plot thickened when Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the matrix which Manila Times published was created by no less than the president himself, reported ABS-CBN News.
Panelo, who also works as the government’s chief legal counsel, yesterday warned the journalists mentioned in the matrix to cease from allegedly destroying the president but said that they would not pursue legal actions against them for the time being, reported AFP.
Tordesillas posted a statement on her Facebook account yester denying that she was involved in the alleged plot. Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa and the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism also denied that they were receiving any emails from Tordesillas regarding the Ang Totoong Narco List videos.
While the president is taking the videos seriously, his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has dismissed them, saying that they’re nothing new.