Manila court finds ‘Bikoy’ guilty of perjury
MANILA, Philippines–A Manila Court has found Peter Joemel Advincula or “Bikoy” guilty of perjury in connection with his accusation that three human rights lawyers were part of a plot to oust then President Rodrigo Duterte.
Advincula has been sentenced to a maximum penalty of one-year imprisonment.
The perjury case stems from the complaint filed by lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), namely Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada III, and Theodore Te.
In 2019, Advincula had accused the three lawyers of being part of a supposed plot called “Project Sodoma,” which aimed to oust President Duterte.
The lawyers purportedly met with other opposition members on March 4, 2019, at Leung Hall in Ateneo de Manila University.
Both Diokno and Tañada said they were at the Ateneo de Manila University on that date attending “The Leader I Want Senatorial Forum.” The two said they had never met or saw Advincula at the venue.
Te, on the other hand, said he only met Advincula on May 2, 2019, to evaluate him as a potential client of FLAG and not in relation to Project Sodoma.
After the meeting, he said he informed Diokno of his reservations on Advincula’s credibility.
The Manila court took note of the fact that Advincula made it appear that he was present during the March 4, 2019, meeting.
“This is easily construed with his use of the word ‘kami’ [us], thereby manifesting his personal knowledge of the meeting having taken place on said dates,” the court said.
“However, as shown by the prosecution, the accused was not present at Leung Hall in ADMU on March 4, 2019, or had contact, albeit briefly, with Atty. Diokno and/or Atty Tañada during said date. As for the May 2, 2019 meeting, the prosecution was likewise able to show that the purpose thereof was only for an assessment of whether the accused can be legally represented by FLAG and nothing related to Project Sodoma,” the court said.
“In sum, the essential element of deliberate falsehood was established in this case and accordingly satisfies the required quantum of evidence for a conviction for perjury,” said the court through Presiding Judge Karla A. Funtila-Abugan.
He had identified other opposition members as part of the plot, including then Vice President Leni Robredo and the so-called ‘Otso Diretso’ senatorial candidates.
Advincula’s statements led to the filing a sedition complaint by the PNP-CIDG against more than two dozen opposition personalities, including Robredo and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, religious leaders, and human rights lawyer.
The Department of Justice eventually dismissed most of the allegations against Robredo and the other personalities, but it filed charges for conspiracy to commit sedition against Trillanes and nine others.