De Lima: ‘Bikoy’ turnaround should not stop Senate probe
Detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima on Friday insisted on a Senate investigation of the original allegations by Peter Joemel Advincula that members of President Duterte’s family and their associates were involved in the illegal drug trade, despite his recantation.
Advincula, who claimed early this month that he was the “Bikoy” in “The Real Narcolist” videos, turned himself in to the Philippine National Police and said at a press conference at Camp Crame on Thursday that his allegations had been fabricated to boost the opposition coalition’s campaign for the May 13 midterm polls.
The five-part video series was also meant to discredit Duterte in a plot to oust the President so that Vice President Leni Robredo could take over and then appoint Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV as her Vice President, he said. He was promised P500,000 and a future government post for his services, he added.
The only way
Unfazed by Advincula’s flip-flop and standing pat on her call for a Senate probe into his initial allegations, De Lima said the only way to determine if he had told the truth was to use “reason and discernment, and digging deeper.”
“Those allegations should be investigated with the same, if not more, vigor, as the allegations against me. That’s the only way to know the truth,” De Lima said in a handwritten statement from her detention cell at Camp Crame.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier disclosed that Advincula tried to sell him information in December 2016 implicating De Lima, former President Benigno Aquino III and several others in illegal drug operations and gun smuggling.
De Lima said that was the reason “I vehemently deny that I and my office have anything to do with the exposés of ‘Bikoy.’”
The detained senator said Advincula’s admission that the testimony he was supposed to have given as the “finale” in the investigation of her role in the narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison only proved that the allegations against her were manufactured.
Ping: Show solid proof
“I go back to what I’ve been saying all this time. Truth is paramount. And the truth shall set me free, literally!” De Lima said.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said Advincula must show “some solid proof or evidence that will substantiate [his] claims, regardless of who will be at the receiving end.”
“At least there is something to evaluate and validate. Otherwise, it’s pointless even listening to him, except for entertainment,” Lacson told the Inquirer in a text message.
Duterte, speaking at a thanksgiving dinner hosted by Senator-elect Christopher “Bong” Go in Davao City on Thursday night, cited Advincula’s statements and denounced Trillanes.
“Your education at the Philippine Military Academy was shouldered by the people, [including your] socks, shoes, T-shirt, food. Then you have the gall to stage a mutiny?” he said.
‘You are really a genius’
Duterte said Trillanes, one of his fiercest critics, “ruined the Senate” and used his power as senator “to run after people.”
“You are shameless. You are not a man,” he said.
Reacting to the President’s tirades, Trillanes reminded Duterte of his unproven allegations that the senator had bank accounts in Singapore.
“There you go again. This time, your source is [Advincula]. You are really a genius, Duterte!” Trillanes said in a statement.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was dismissive of Advincula’s claims of an ouster plot against the President. “Let us not be hasty in giving credence to what he is saying. From what I heard and read he has been lying at every turn,” he said in a text message to the media.
“His motive? Of course to save himself! Let him substantiate what he is saying,” he added.
Hospitalized, yet free to go
Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the PNP chief, said Advincula, who was placed under arrest on multiple charges of estafa and illegal recruitment, was rushed to the PNP General Hospital earlier on Friday after he complained of dizziness and found to have elevated blood pressure.
Police Col. Bernard Banac, the PNP spokesperson, said Advincula had posted bail for all the cases and was free to go, but needed a doctor’s clearance to leave the hospital.
Ateneo, DLSU: No such meetings
Advincula, however, may remain in police custody to submit a statement and evidence to back his allegations against the opposition, he said.
Meanwhile, De La Salle University (DLSU) and Ateneo de Manila University denied in separate statements Advincula’s claims that his meetings with Trillanes, Robredo and seven of the Otso Diretso candidates were held on their campuses.
“DLSU does not condone any subversive activities and has existing provisions in the student handbook and employee manuals against such actions,” the DLSU statement said.
Ateneo president Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin said the university “reserves all of its rights to seek redress for any damages which may be wrought by such reckless claim and takes seriously the imperative to uphold the rule of law in our democracy.”
Former Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte told the Inquirer he would file a cyberlibel case against Advincula and others involved in circulating the Bikoy videos, which also linked him to the illegal drug trade.
On Thursday, Bicol businessman Elizaldy Co said he filed a P1.1-billion cyberlibel complaint against Advincula and social media giants Facebook and YouTube for spreading the videos that linked his resort to the illegal drug trade. —WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO, JAYMEE T. GAMIL AND MAR S. ARGUELLES
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