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Arrest warrant issued vs Trillanes

Alvin Murcia

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Senator Antonio Trillanes arrives at the Senate building in Manila on 25 September 2018. Trillanes, the chief critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested but posted bail after a court issued a warrant for his arrest in what the lawmaker decried as a “failure of democracy.” AFP

Branch 138 of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) on Friday issued arrest warrants against former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and 10 others for alleged conspiracy to commit sedition. This developed just a day after a Department of Justice panel of prosecutors indicted the former legislator.

The MeTc Branch 138 clerk of court said the warrants dated 14 February 2020 were issued by Judge Kristine Grace Suarez against all 11 charged of the offense in connection with Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy’s “Ang Totoong Narcolist (The True Narcolist)” videos.

The alleged widely-circulated video intended to besmirch the reputation of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family by portraying them as closely linked to the illegal drug trade.

The branch clerk of court said at least three people posted bail of P10,000 each for their temporary liberty. Two of those charged were identified as Fr. Flaviano Villanueva of the religious order Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) who runs the Saint Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center in Tayuman, and Fr. Albert Alejo, a Jesuit.

Trillanes’ trouble with the law originated from the claim of Bikoy that members of the opposition have plotted to discredit the Duterte administration by linking the President and his family to the illegal drug trade.

The videos that circulated online featured a hooded figure called Bikoy, which was later identified as Advincula, after he came out at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IPB) office in Pasig City.

The videos were part of an alleged plot to discredit President Duterte with the aim of taking him out of Malacañang and ostensibly boost the candidacy of the Otso Diretso senatorial candidates.

Other high-profile respondents include Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and former Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino who were cleared of the charges.

The PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) included Advincula in the sedition complaint although he might later on be used as a state witness.

Larry Gadon, Advincula’s lawyer, revealed that his client is in a safehouse somewhere in north Luzon.

Prosecutors said they still have to consider Advincula’s discharge as a state witness and may present other witnesses in court.

Trillanes, a fierce critic of President Duterte, is out of the country at the moment but was reported willing to face the charges in court.

He was first arrested in September 2018 when he was senator on charges of rebellion.

President Duterte issued Proclamation 572 that nullified the cloak of amnesty granted him as a result of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

Advincula accused members of the opposition, human rights lawyers as well as prominent figures in the Catholic Church of conspiring to oust President Duterte under an operation code-named “Project Sodoma.” That same project involved producing and releasingthea series of the infamous narcolist videos.

On 10 February, the Department of Justice filed charges against Trillanes and 10 others over the Bikoy videos but cleared Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former Senator Bam Aquino, former Magdalo representative Gary Alejano, and Otso Diretso candidates Erin Tañada, Chel Diokno and Florin Hilbay.

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