By Jeffrey Damicog
Vice President Leni Robredo and at least 35 others including opposition members are facing criminal complaints over the viral videos “Ang Totoong Narcolist” which accused family members of President Rodrigo Duterte as being involved in the illegal drugs trade.
The Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) filed yesterday afternoon (July 18) the criminal complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In its complaint, the PNP-CIDG accused Robredo and her co-respondents of having committed “Sedition, Inciting Sedition, Cyber Libel, Libel, Estafa, Harboring a criminal, and Obstruction of Justice.”
Peter Joemel Advincula, who is the hooded “Bikoy” in the viral videos, was also named as a respondent in the complaint and was present at its filing at the DOJ to swear to his sworn affidavit that was attached to the complaint.
The PNP-CIDG explained it has been its practice to include as respondents its witnesses and it will be up to prosecutors whether to discharge them as state witnesses.
“As averred by Mr. Advincula, he was engaged by the respondents to spread lies against the President, his family and close associate, making them to appear as illegal trade protectors and how they earned staggering amounts of money,” read the PNP-CIDG complaint.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will form a panel of prosecutors who will conduct a preliminary investigation of the complaint.
Aside from Robredo and Advincula, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint are incumbent Senators Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Leila De Lima as well as former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
The complaint also named as respondents most of the losing “Otso Diretso” senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party, namely, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, former Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Robredo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, and Samira Gutoc-Tomawis.
Lawyers included in the complaint are former Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Theodore Te, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Egon Cayosa, former IBP President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, Philip Sawali Minerva Ambrosio, Serafin Salvador and someone known only as Chito.
Catholic Church leaders were also respondents in the complaint including Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) vice president and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, former CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, former Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, and Fr. Alber Alejo.
Other respondents include former Police Sr. Supt. Eduardo Acierto, Jonnell Sangalang, Yolanda Villanueva, Bro. Armin Luistro, Boom Enriquez, Vincent Romano III, Danilo Songco, a certain Monique, Joel Saracho, and Carmelito Salvador.
Citing the testimony of Advincula, the PNP-CIDG stated that from February to May the respondents planned at the Jesuit Communication Building at the Ateneo de Manila University compound “to spread false information against President Duterte’s family and administration officials in order to agitate the general population into making mass protest with the possibility of bringing down the president from the position and allow Vice-President Robredo to instantly succeed.”
“The spread of false information and accusation will also help bring down the popularity of the administration senatorial candidates and in turn boost the campaign of Otso Diretso candidates for the 2019 mid-term elections,” it added.
The PNP-CIDG also cited the IBP which appeared to have committed libel for allowing Advincula to hold a May 6 press conference at the IBP head office in Pasig City where Advincula admitted to be “Bikoy” and made accusations against the President’s family.
The PNP-CIDG added the respondents may also be held liable of obstruction of justice for having harbored Advincula since they should be aware that he is a fugitive and faces numerous criminal charges.