PNP sedition raps ‘meant to stifle democratic dissent,’ Trillanes says

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MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Friday said he is ready to face a police criminal complaint for inciting to sedition against him, saying also that it is “political persecution and harassment” by the government.

In a statement, the former lawmaker and vocal Duterte critic also slammed the Philippine National Police’s complaint filed against key opposition figures and Catholic Church leaders as an act “meant to stifle democratic dissent.”

“The PNP-CIDG investigators clearly abused and misused the subpoena power recently bestowed on them to single out critics of the Duterte administration,” he added.

The complaint is up for preliminary investigation and no subpoena has been issued yet. Subpoenas for preliminary investigations are issued by prosecutors and not the police.

On Thursday afternoon, the police filed sedition, inciting to sedition, cyberlibel, libel, estafa and harboring a criminal/obstruction of justice complaint against Trillanes, Vice President Leni Robredo and dozens others connected to the opposition and to the Catholic Church.

Some members of the clergy have been critical of the government’s policies, particularly on its bloody “war on drugs”, but the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has generally refrained from commenting on the Duterte administration.

Advincula’s allegations

While a copy of the complaint has yet to be made public, the transmittal attached to the complaint read: “As averred by Mr. [Peter Joemel Advincula], he was engaged by the respondents to spread lies against the president, his family and close associate, making them to appear as illegal drug trade protectors and how they earned staggering amounts of money.”

Advincula has twice claimed that he is “Bikoy,” the hooded figure behind the anonymous “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos that alleged the Dutertes and their allies have links to illegal drugs.

The Liberal Party, for its part, dismissed the complaint as “lies, made up and baseless.”

“Ginagawa ito ng mga kalaban ng demokrasya dahil si VP na lang ang nakaharang sa kanilang hangarin na ituloy ang patayan sa huwad na war on drugs nang walang nananagot, ang pagbenta ng Pilipinas sa China at ang panghabambuhay na paghahari-harian nila sa bansa,” the former ruling party also said.

(The enemies of democracy are doing this because the vice president is in the way of their goal of killing in this fake ‘war on drugs’ without accountability, the selling out of the Philippines to China, and their plans to stay perpetually in power)

Seven of the political party’s candidates for senator, except former Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, were named as respondents in the complaint.

READ: Robredo camp decries harassment

‘Advincula peddled lies before’

Trillanes also hit Advincula’s credibility as the witness in the complaint. “They know that they don’t have evidence except for the narration of a witness that has time and again lied to the public, but they still went on to file a case,” he also said in Filipino.

Advincula spoke up twice over the video series: In May 7, he stood by the videos’ content; three weeks later, he made an about face and pinned the opposition as those behind the videos.

The Palace, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and several lawmakershave  questioned Advincula’s credibility.

Sotto said Advincula reached out to his office in 2-16 and accused former President Benigno Aquino III and his former cabinet members, Roxas and Sen. Leila de Lima, of links to an alleged drug syndicate called “Quadrangle.”

READ: The shifting narratives on the ‘Bikoy’ videos, according to Peter Advincula

De Lima, who is in police custody in the police headquarters in Quezon City, is also included as a respondent in the complaint despite her having to issue statements through handwritten notes.

Trillanes said that the government is slow in investigating thousands of killings under its supposed “drug war,” while complaints against the opposition seem to have been fast tracked.

The former senator said that he wishes the state prosecutors looking into the complaint would evaluate it carefully and not let themselves be used for politics.

“Whatever this it, I will face it and use it to bring out Duterte’s link to illegal drugs,” he added in Filipino.

READ: Trillanes: We will have feast day in court with Advincula as witness

Palace: Not us

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told ANC’s “Early Edition” stressed that the Palace is not involved with the filing of criminal raps against its known critics.

Panelo said in a mix of English and Filipino: “We have nothing to do with this case. None at all. Absolutely nothing. Otherwise, we would have sued them even before.”

He added that the filing may also pave the way to know the truth about the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos. Panelo, who is also the presidential chief legal counsel, said that it is up to investigators to determine Advincula’s credibility as a witness.

Earlier, when Advincula was accusing the Dutertes of drug links, Panelo cast doubts on his credibility and pointed out that Advincula was once convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

Panelo also distanced the Palace from Gadon, who now serves as the lawyer of the Advincula.

“Gadon is a lawyer who takes clients,” Panelo explained, saying it is only a coincidence that Gadon supports the president.

Gadon filed an impeachment complaint against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte had declared emnity towards. The latter was removed from position due to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition that was later granted by the SC.

READ: Palace questions credibility of man who claims to be ‘Bikoy’ | No proof of ‘Bikoy’ claims vs opposition — PNP