Ombudsman dismisses treason, sedition charges vs peace negotiators
The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the treason and inciting to sedition charges filed against Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, peace negotiators led by Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, and members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
In a resolution approved by Ombudsman Chairman Conchita Carpio Morales on May 17, 2016, the agency upheld the decision of the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office on October 22, 2015 recommending the dismissal of the treason and sedition cases.
The charges were earlier filed by former Manila Mayor Joselito Atienza, Abakada Partylist Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz and two other persons. The charges were dismissed “because they failed to prove the accusations.”
Atienza and his co-complainants had alleged that Deles, including members of the government negotiating panel, members of the MILF negotiating panel, and several other government officials, have committed treason and sedition for pushing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which would implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The Ombudsman said its own investigation, led by investigator Fatima Kristine Franco, proved that there was no basis for the charges.
“The mere act of proposing a draft of the BBL, which was introduced as a bill, but failed to pass the deliberation before the Congress of the Philippines, is not within the ambit of the mentioned acts,” the Ombudsman said.
“Complainants failed to present evidence showing that an act of sedition exists. Since there is no sedition, it follows that respondents could not have taken part in such activity. No proof was likewise presented showing that respondents had uttered, written, or held any program, which instigated the public to rise against the government,” the Ombudsman added.
The resolution said Atienza and his co-complainants “failed to show that the proposed BBL contains words or statements which tend to overthrow or undermine the security of the government or to weaken the confidence of the people in the government.”
“This Office likewise upholds the dismissal of the charge of treason. The act of respondents in drafting and proposing the BBL does not amount to ‘levying war’ against the Republic of the Philippines, or adhering to her enemies; at any rate, treason is a war crime and cannot be committed in time of peace, as in the present case,” the Ombudsman said.
Meanwhile, Deles welcomed the dismissal of the cases.
“On behalf of my colleagues in government who persevered to secure this peace agreement in the Bangsamoro, we thank the Ombudsman for upholding justice in these cases filed against us. This is a fitting endorsement so that efforts to secure peace in the Bangsamoro could continue in the next Administration,” Deles said.
The proposed BBL, she said, “is clearly a document inciting peace, justice, order, unity, and goodwill among all peoples.”
“Contrary to the baseless accusations levelled against us, the CAB and the BBL sought to promote peace and progress in the Bangsamoro and the entire country,” Deles said.
Ferrer also welcomed the dismissal of the charges, saying “the complaint was evidently a nuisance case that wasted the time and money of government institutions and unduly harassed the peace negotiators and the BTC commissioners.” JE