Manila: Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte does not have any role in the filing of sedition charges against Vice-President Leni Robredo and 31 others in connection with the so-called “real narco list.”
On Thursday, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the national police filed sedition charges against Robredo, and other political opposition personalities.
According to Panelo, he told Duterte about the filing of charges by the CIDG against opposition leaders on Thursday night and said that the President was “surprised.”
“Who? Who filed? Panelo quoted the President as saying in an interview with reporters on Friday afternoon.
Aside from Robredo, figures including incumbent Senators Leila de Lima and Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Chel Diokno, lawyer Romulo Macalintal and Gary Alejano as well as Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Fathers Robert Reyes and Albert Alejo and several others including Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula who also stood as police witness in filing the charges.
The case stems from a video the so-called “Ang Totoong Narcolist” (The Real Narcolist) that made rounds in sharing sites in recent weeks.
In the video, a hooded figure, whom Advincula later admitted to be him, alleged that the President’s family was involved in drugs.
But Advincula later on recanted his statement and said certain figures in the political opposition had forced him to come up with the video.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a prosecution panel will be formed to hear the complaint. Aside from sedition, the accused individuals were also charged with cyber libel, libel, fraud, harbouring a criminal and obstruction of justice.
Those who were named in the list were shocked over their inclusion in the charges.
De Lima, belittled the sedition charge as “pure hogwash!.”
The Senator, a former justice secretary, questioned how the CIDG was able to file the case without conducting a proper investigation.
“They’re supposed to have subpoena powers now, right?” she pointed out.
Senator Hontiveros-Baraquel said the filing of charges was “a badly-written telenovela (TV soap).” “Bad acting. Awful script. Terrible plot twist. It is also a total waste of taxpayers’ money. Instead of devoting human resources and money to pursue big-time drug lords and other criminals, our police force goes on a wild-goose chase to further harass and intimidate the democratic opposition,” she said.
The opposition senators described the charges as “political harassment.”
Duterte and Robredo belong to different political coalitions.