Vice President Leni Robredo, several opposition figures, and priests have been accused of inciting to sedition among other charges over their alleged connection to the controversial Ang Totoong Narco List viral videos.
Apart from sedition, the Philippine National Police (PNP) also charged them for cyber libel, libel, fraud, harboring a criminal, and obstruction of justice yesterday.
Just a few hours after the complaints were filed at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will form a panel of prosecutors to conduct a preliminary investigation on the case, reported Rappler.
The PNP filed the charges against a total of 36 personalities, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer. This includes vocal Duterte critics Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino, and former opposition senatorial candidates Chel Diokno, Romulo Macalintal, Florin Hilbay, Samira Gutoc, and Erin Tañada.
Also charged were former Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas, incumbent CBCP Vice President Archbishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, priests Robert Reyes, Flaviano Villanueva, and Albert E. Alejo, and Bishops Honesto Ongtioco and Teodoro Bacani Jr.
Peter Joemel Advincula the man who claims he was the “Bikoy” character in the viral videos, was also charged. However, the PNP said he might become a state witness depending on prosecutors’ discretion.
The video series Ang Totoong Narco List first appeared on YouTube in April. In it, a hooded figure named Bikoy who claims to be a former drug syndicate member alleges that presidential son and Congressman Paolo Duterte, former presidential assistant and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, and presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio receive millions from the illegal drug trade.
Advincula claimed to be Bikoy in May during a public appearance at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Pasig. He said that he was standing by his allegations against Paolo, Go, and Carpio and wanted to file charges against the trio for their alleged involvement in the drug trade.
Things took a turn, however, when Advincula surrendered to the PNP a few weeks later and sang a different tune. He said that all the allegations he made against Duterte’s camp were false and that the videos were produced by Trillanes and other opposition personalities with the intention to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
The group allegedly wanted Robredo to become president and Trillanes allegedly believed that if this happened, he would become vice president.
Advincula further alleged that the opposition wanted to ruin the chances of Duterte allies of winning Senate seats in May’s mid-term elections.
He said he agreed to become part of the plot because the group allegedly promised to pay him PHP500,000 (US$9,517) for his services and reward him with a government position.
Robredo, Trillanes, de Lima, and Hontiveros have all denied Advincula’s accusations.
Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo today said that the president did not have anything to do with the charges against the opposition figures.
“We have nothing to do with this case. None at all. Absolutely nothing. Otherwise, we should have been the ones who sued them a long time ago,” he told the ANC news show Early Edition.
Meanwhile, Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez yesterday called the charges “plain and simple harassment.”
Trillanes also released a statement today saying that the charges leveled against him and the others were “clear acts of political persecution and harassment by the Duterte administration meant to stifle democratic dissent.”
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