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Palace: No politics in sedition raps

If that is the finding of the Department of Justice, as he keeps on saying, Let the law take its course.

Francis Wakefield

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As far as Malacañang goes, there is no politics involved in the formal filing of charges against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and 10 others before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for conspiracy to commit sedition over the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” video blog.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Chief presidential Legal Counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo, said the Palace never engages in politics.

“Well, as a matter of policy, the President does not interfere in any proceeding involving the departments,” Panelo said.

“If that is the finding of the Department of Justice, as he keeps on saying, “Let the law take its course.”

With regard to notions that Vice President Leni Robredo being cleared of the charges is a sign that the issues against her is merely politicking, Panelo said that is not the case.

“You know, the prosecutors, those investigating prosecutors know their task — to find probable cause. If the evidence presented to them does not show there is, then they have no other alternative but to dismiss the case,” he added.

Panelo said that with former Senator Trillanes and 10 others already being charged, they will now have the opportunity to defend themselves.

“Again, the President says, let the law takes its course. There are remedies available to them; they should avail of them,” he added.

In a 57-page Resolution dated 27 January 2020 and released only last Friday, the court found probable cause to indict Trillanes, Peter Jomel Advincula, Jonnel Sangalang, Yolanda Villanueva Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Robert Alejo, Vicente Romano III, Joel Saracho, Eduardo Acierto, Boom Enriquez and a certain “Monique” for conspiracy to commit sedition.

The indictment came after the panel of prosecutors concluded its preliminary investigation on the complaint of sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber libel estafa and obstruction of justice filed by the PNP-CIDG against Advincula and 30 other espondents that included Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Ana Theresia Hontiveros Baraquel, Leila de Lima and Trillanes and former lawmaker Bam Aquino.

Citing Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code, the panel explained that “the interlocking pieces of proof provide a complete picture of the grand conspiracy between and among some of the respondents to create hatred or revenge against the President and his family with the end in view of toppling and destabilizing the current administration.”

Sometime in April 2019 before the midterm elections, videos implicating members of the President’s family and his close associates to supposed links in the drug trade were made public.

On 7 May 2019, Advincula held a press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) office in Pasig City, claiming he was the hooded man “Bikoy” featured in the video.

Advincula then appeared at the PNP headquarters and claimed the videos were released as part of “Project Sodoma” designed to create “fake news and false stories about the President, his family and his associates” to erode public trust in the present administration, remove the President; install Vice President Leni Robredo as President and Trillanes as Vice President; and boost the candidacy of the Otso Diretso senatorial line up.

The panel, however, dismissed the complaint for sedition, inciting to sedition, cyberlibel, libel, estafa and obstruction of justice against all respondents.

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