MANILA - The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday asked the justice department to order the police to produce more evidence for the sedition complaint it lodged against her before she files a counter-affidavit.
The police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group's complaint was based on the sworn statement of Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed that opposition figures paid him to appear in several viral videos linking President Rodrigo Duterte's family to illegal drugs.
Advincula's statement contains "bare, unsubstantiated and false allegations", read the motion for production and copying of evidence filed by Robredo's lawyer Marlon Manuel and spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.
Robredo has denied joining a supposed meeting among Advincula and opposition leaders at a Manila university in March.
“Indeed, there is no allegation of any overt act on the part of respondent [Robredo] in the Sinumpaang Salaysay to show or indicate that respondent committed any act amounting to the crimes of sedition, inciting to sedition and cyberlibel,” the motion said.
Robredo and about 30 opposition leaders, members of the clergy and lawyers are facing separate cyberlibel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice complaints before the justice department.
There are inconsistencies between 2 versions of Advincula’s affidavits – the first sworn to before the PNP-CIDG on May 29, 2019 and the second one submitted to the DOJ on July 18.
In his CIDG affidavit, Advincula said Robredo dropped by for about 10 minutes in his March meeting with Otso Diretso senatorial candidates. But in his DOJ affidavit, he said Robredo was part of the meeting.
Robredo, in her motion, noted that the Philippine National Police earlier told reporters that it has other pieces of evidence against her.
The Vice President accused the PNP of “deliberately” keeping these pieces of evidence from her, in violation of her right to examine evidence and her right to due process.
“'Di pwede hulugan ang evidence. Di pwede installment ang evidence,” Manuel told reporters after the filing of the motion.
(You can’t submit evidence by installment.)
DEFER FILING OF COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT
The DOJ has required respondents to submit their counter-affidavits on Friday, August 9 during the start of its preliminary investigation into the sedition complaint.
Robredo instead asked the DOJ to defer the filing of her counter-affidavit until she receives a copy of additional evidence against her.
The Vice President will be represented by her counsel in Friday’s probe, said Manuel.
Meanwhile, Gutierrez called on the PNP-CIDG to “play fair.”
“Paano ka gagawa ng maayos na sagot? Papaano ka magkakaroon ng maayos na assessment nitong kasong ito kung sa dulo, hindi mo hawak 'yung buong kwento,” he said, pointing out that they don’t even have a copy of the original affidavit filed by Advincula.
(How can you properly answer the allegations, how can you have a proper assessment of the case if, in the end, you don’t know the entire story?)
“Pakita niyo buong ebidensya. Galangin niyo ang buong karapatan ng mga respondents sa isang criminal investigation. Sundin niyo ang sarili niyong patakaran para hindi na lang magulat tayo na isang araw at meron nang resulta itong hindi inaasahan ng kahit sino,” he added.
(Show us your entire evidence. Respect the right of the right respondents in a criminal investigation. Follow your own procedures so that we won’t be surprised at the outcome nobody saw coming.)
Gutierrez said Robredo’s camp is being cautious in handling the sedition complaint, citing the drugs cases against Sen. Leila de Lima and the quo warranto case against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Legal experts, he said, initially thought the cases would not prosper but these eventually led to De Lima’s detention and Sereno’s ouster.
The sedition complaint against Robredo is politically-motivated, claimed Gutierrez.
Advincula's lawyer Larry Gadon earlier admitted that he plans to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo if she is indicted for sedition, noted her spokesperson.
“Para sa akin, very revealing 'yung admission na 'yun dahil lumalabas talaga dito, hindi ito ordinaryong criminal prosecution na batay sa ebidensya kundi isang politically motivated na kaso na ang pakay ay patalsikin ang Bise Presidente at kung maaari simulan ang isang impeachment laban sa kanya,” Gutierrez said.
(For me, the admission is very revealing because it now appears this is not an ordinary criminal prosecution based on evidence but a politically-motivated one that aims to oust the Vice President and start an impeachment proceeding against her.)
ABS-CBN News earlier reported the Office of the Solicitor General had a hand in drafting Advincula’s affidavit despite Malacanang’s earlier statement that the government has nothing to do with the sedition complaint.
The OSG justified its involvement as rendering legal assistance to its client, the PNP-CIDG.
The Vice President is unperturbed despite the sedition complaint, electoral protest and negative statements from government officials and social media users against her, Gutierrez said.
“Right now, nakatutok siya sa trabahong pinangako niyang gagawin sa ating mga kababayan. Yung kanyang pagtutulong sa mga nasa laylayan, yung Angat-Buhay program,” he said.
(Right now, she’s focused on her job which she promised our fellow-Filipinos. That is helping the people in the fringes of society through the Angat-Buhay program.)