DOJ tells PNP: Submit sedition evidence vs Leni, 37 others
Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors on Friday ordered the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to submit evidence supporting its sedition and other charges against Vice President Leni Robredo and 37 others.
The DOJ panel conducting the preliminary investigation, headed by state prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, gave the CIDG five days to reply to the motions for the production of evidence filed by the lawyers of 15 of the 38 respondents.
Based on ‘Bikoy’ testimony
The CIDG’s charges of sedition, inciting to sedition, cyberlibel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice were based on the testimony of controversial whistleblower Peter Joemel Advincula, alias “Bikoy.”
The panel deferred the submission of counteraffidavits to Sept. 6, although those who want to submit earlier may do so without waiting for the resolution of other issues raised in the hearing.
Torrevillas said only the pieces of evidence made available to the panel would be considered in resolving the case.
“Only those evidence submitted by the CIDG and only those evidence which are already part of the record, will be appreciated and considered in resolving the complaint,” she said.
She said only three respondents have so far submitted counteraffidavits: retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
OSG representation hit
At the hearing, former Sen. Rene Saguisag, counsel of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Arno Sanidad, representing former law school dean Chel Diokno, former Rep. Erin Tañada and former Supreme Court spokesperson Theordore Te, questioned the appearance of lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), led by Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda, to represent the CIDG.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and Filibon Tacardon, lawyer of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, also voiced their objections to the OSG’s appearance.
“The OSG should be tribune of people. It should not be the tuta (lapdog) of this administration,” Saguisag said, spurring Miranda to reply: “Let’s be professional.”
‘Tribune of the people’
Miranda replied that the OSG was indeed appearing as “tribune of the people” and cited legal opinions that the OSG has the authority to assist government agencies in legal proceedings.
She cited Executive Order No. 292 which she said empowers the OSG to act and represent the republic and the people before any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action or proceeding which, in his opinion, affects the welfare of the people.
The panel, through Torrevillas, put an end to the argument by ordering both sides to submit their pleadings.
Solicitor General Jose Calida later issued a statement saying the Administrative Code of 1987 states that OSG is the “law office of the government” and the Solicitor General is the “principal law officer and legal defender of the government.”
The mandate of the OSG, he said, is broad in scope and that there are only a few recognized limitations to its authority in special laws and jurisprudence.
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