DoJ chief assures fair sedition probe

July 19, 2019
Menardo Guevarra

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday allayed fears of the opposition that the Justice Department will be biased against them when it starts investigating the string of criminal cases the Philippine National Police recently filed over the “Totoong Narcolist” videos.

“I have said this before and I will say it again: the DOJ is not a weapon for oppression or persecution. We shall go only by the evidence presented before us and we don’t care who gets indicted and who goes scotfree. But once probable cause is determined and a criminal case is filed in court, the DOJ will exert the full force of the law to secure a conviction,” Guevarra said in a statement.

Guevarra issued the statement after former senator Antonio Trillanes IV called on state prosecutors to remain neutral and not succumb to politics.

This developed as Guevarra created a panel of prosecutors to handle the preliminary investigation of the cases the PNP filed.

Under Department Order No. 366, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, Assistant State Prosecutor Michael John Humarang, and Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Paolo Santiago were appointed to the panel.

Last Thursday, the PNP filed slew of charges against Vice President Leni Robredo, Trillanes, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, and scores of others that included priests and lawyers, before the DOJ.

Although Peter Joemel Advincula alias ‘Bikoy’ was one of the respondents, the PNP said that it will be utilizing him as key witness against the respondents.

Named respondents were ‘Bikoy’, Trillanes, Jonnel P. Sangalang, Yolanda Villanueva Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Albert Alejo, Bro. Armin Luistro, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Boom Enriquez, Vicente Romano III, Danilo Songco, one alias ‘Monique.’

Joel Saracho, Eduardo Acierto, Archbishop Pablo Virgilio David, Fr. Robert Reye, Archbishop Socrates Villegas,  Atty. Fhilipp Sawali, Atty. Abdiel Elijah Jan Fajardo, Atty. Minerva Ambrosio, Atty. Egon Cayosa, one alias Atty. Chito, Atty. Theodore Te.

Atty. Serafin Salvador, Carmelita Salvador, Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, Gary Alejano, Atty. Florin Hilbay, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, Samari Gutoc-Tomawis, Paolo Benigno Aquino, Atty. Lorenzo Tañada III, Hontivero, de Lima, Robredo, one alias ‘Sentrix,’ and John Doe.

The criminal charges filed against them were sedition/inciting to sedition, cyber-libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal, and obstruction of justice.

In a three-page letter-complaint, the PNP accused the respondents of engaging ‘Bikoy’ to spread lies against President Duterte and his family to make them appear as protectors of the illegal drugs trade, and earn huge amount of money in the process.

Also, the PNP claimed the respondents were involved in the alleged sedition which was supposedly committed in the Jesuits Communication Building at the Ateneo de Manila compound were they planned to spread false information against Duterte to agitate the public to stage mass protest.