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DOJ won’t drop sedition raps vs Robredo et al.

/ 05:30 AM July 29, 2019
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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has denied the demand of supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to dismiss the sedition complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

“The [Department of Justice] is not a weapon for oppression or persecution. We shall go only by the evidence presented before us and we don’t care who gets indicted and who goes scot-free,” Guevarra said on Sunday.

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“But once a criminal case is filed in court, the DOJ will exert the full force of the law to secure a conviction,” he said after a group calling itself Team Pilipinas wrote a letter making the demand.

Plot to agitate

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The complaint accused Robredo and 32 others of plotting to “agitate the general population into making a mass protest with the possibility of bringing down [President Rodrigo Duterte] from the position and allow Vice President Robredo to instantly succeed.”

Apart from sedition, they were also charged with libel, cyberlibel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice.

The charges were based on the claims of controversial “whistleblower” Peter Advincula, alias “Bikoy,” who made several accusations against government officials in a series of videos weeks before the May 13 elections.

The five videos, posted on YouTube in March, initially claimed that President Duterte and members of his family were involved in drug trafficking.

But Advincula later recanted and claimed that opposition leaders paid him to make the videos in a purported plot to oust the President and replace him with the Vice President.

Based on evidence

Guevarra said the Vice President’s supporters could expect the DOJ to resolve the case “on the basis of evidence only and nothing else.”

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Robredo was accused along with detained Sen. Leila de Lima; Sen. Risa Hontiveros; former Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino; former Congressmen Erin Tañada and Gary Alejano; Archbishop Socrates Villegas; Bishops Honesto Ongtioco, Pablo Virgilio David and Teodoro Bacani Jr.; Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Domingo Cayosa and former president Abdiel Fajardo; former opposition senatorial candidates Chel Diokno, Romulo Macalintal, Florin Hilbay and Samira Gutoc-Tomawis; former Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro; Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Albert Alejo and Fr. Robert Reyes; and former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te.

Prosecutors summoned Robredo and her corespondents to the DOJ on Aug. 9 for the preliminary investigation of the charges.

During the preliminary investigation, prosecutors will hear from the accusers and the respondents through their sworn statements before they decide whether to file criminal charges in court.

Advincula’s lawyer Larry Gadon, a losing senatorial candidate, said he planned to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo once the DOJ indicted her for sedition.

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TAGS: Department of Justice, DoJ, Leni Robredo, Menardo Guevarra, sedition case
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