A Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest today against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and 10 others for allegedly conspiring to commit sedition.
A clerk at the court told ABS-CBN News the warrant was issued yesterday, and that at least three of the accused have posted the PHP10,000 (US$198) bail. However, the court refused to give a copy of the warrant to the media, or to name the suspects listed in the case.
The Justice Department decided last week to indict Trillanes, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, and the 10 others for sedition in connection with the 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 others to discredit the government. His testimony became the basis for the charges filed against Trillanes and the 10 others, which ironically also includes Advincula.
According to the Revised Penal Code, the act of conspiring to commit sedition is punishable by up to four years and two months in prison and a fine of up to PHP2,000 (US$39.60).
Trillanes has been a thorn on Duterte’s side since the 2016 elections, when he filed a plunder complaint against the then-Davao City mayor for allegedly paying cronies for no-show government jobs. He has also consistently criticized Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs, which has left thousands of people dead.
If imprisoned, Trillanes will become the second senator to be jailed during the Duterte administration. The first, Senator Leila de Lima, was also strident Duterte critic, and is currently jailed at Camp Crame for allegedly extorting money from prison inmates when she was justice secretary. She has yet to be convicted, however, and observers have pointed to a lack of hard evidence in her case.