Former Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and 10 others have been indicted for “conspiracy to commit sedition” for their involvement in videos that linked President Rodrigo Duterte and his family to the illegal drug trade, the Department of Justice said on Monday, February 10.
Aside from Trillanes, whistleblower Peter Joemel Advincula alias “Bikoy,” former Police Sr. Supt. Eduardo Acierto, Joel Saracho, Boom Enriquez, Yolanda V. Ong, Vicente Romano III, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Jonnel P. Sangalang, and a certain “Monique” were charged before the Metropolitan Trial Court in Quezon City for their participation in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos.
The Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed a complaint against those allegedly involved in “Project Sodoma,” an alleged plot to unseat Duterte and install Vice President Leni Robredo in his place.
Advincula alleged that the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos released in April 2019 were part of the Project Sodoma. He also claimed to be the hooded figure “Bikoy” who narrated the videos.
The PNP-CIDG accused Robredo and 35 others in its complaint of having committed sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, and obstruction of justice.
However, the panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas cleared Robredo as well as Senators Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima and former Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino from their involvement in the video series.
According to the DOJ, the prosecution panel found “interlocking pieces of proof” that provide a “complete picture of the grand conspiracy between and among some respondents to create hatred or revenge against the president and his family with the end in view of toppling and destabilizing the current administration.”
“These videos, the Panel found, were made by respondents Advincula; Saracho (who acted as their narrator); Enriquez (videographer) and his assistant, @Monique; Ong and Romano (scriptwriters). The Panel likewise found that Fr. Alejo prepared the JesCom (Jesuit Communication Foundation) where the videos were taken,” the DOJ said.
“Advincula submitted as evidence, among others, USB drives, photographs of the respondents, keys and access cards of the places where he and his companions stayed, as well as utility bills and receipts, copies of the purchase receipts of the gadgets and electronic devices used in the making of the videos. These pieces of evidence, along with certain admissions made by some respondents, were used by the Panel in arriving at their conclusion to indict the 11 respondents for conspiracy to commit sedition,” it added.
Other raps junked
The DOJ said the prosecution panel dropped the CIDG’s sedition, cyber libel, libel estafa and obstruction of justice complaints against all respondents.
“In finding no probable cause for sedition or inciting to sedition, the Panel found the element of public and tumultuous uprising wanting,” the DOJ stated.
“It further explained that while the video series ‘contains libelous imputations against President Duterte and his family which tend to create hatred or revenge against them,’ nonetheless no words were uttered which tended to incite the people to take up arms or rise against the government,” it added.
In response, Trillanes on Monday called the case “absurd” and another example of the current administration weaponizing “the law against the political opposition, critics, and the media.”
“But let me assure Mr. Duterte that we will not be cowed by such political persecution. On the contrary, we are more determined and motivated to continue our fight for democracy and the rights of our people,” he added.
Trillanes, who had been previously charged with inciting to sedition, is currently facing a revived rebellion case over the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege after Duterte ordered an amnesty granted during the Aquino administration void. His trial will resume in April. n