MANILA, Philippines – The group Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) filed a motion on Monday (August 19) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the participation of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in the trial of the sedition case against Vice President Leni Robredo and other members of the opposition.
According to the 12-page motion filed by former Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, they want the DOJ to disqualify the OSG from the preliminary investigation of the case.
The OSG stands as the legal counsel of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
FLAG alleged that the OSG did questionable participation in the drafting the affidavit of witness Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy.
The group cited the Urbano doctrine and the other decisions of the Supreme Court (SC) which ruled that the OSG is banned from participating in any criminal proceedings.
The OSG has yet to respond to the issue. – MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched the preliminary investigation on the complaints of sedition filed against Vice President Leni Robredo and some members of the opposition.
Present in the investigation were respondents who belong to the free legal assistance group namely Atty. Erin Tañada; Atty. Chel.Diokno; Atty. Florin Hilbay; Atty. Philip Sawali and former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te.
Also present was primary respondent and witness in the case, Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy.
Robredo and 35 others were being linked to the so-called ‘Project Sodoma’ or a plot by opposition groups to oust President Rodrigo Duterte. Part of such plan was the release of the narco-video series ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist.’
Representing the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) was Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda which the opposition argued as questionable.
“Ang OSG (ay) tribune of the people ‘no. Hindi tuta ng Malacañang, (OSG is the tribune of the people not a puppet of Malacañang),” noted Atty. Rene Saguisag, the legal counsel of opposition senator Risa Hontiveros.
“It should not sandbag itself into becoming a defender of the attempt of the administration to eliminate all dissent and dissenters,” he added.
Other respondents also aired their disappointment over Miranda representing the police.
“Inamin naman nila na nakialam sila sa paggawa ng salaysay ni Advincula, (They admitted their part in writing Advincula’s statement),” Diokno, for his part, said.
“Iyon ay sa palagay ko isang lehitimong tanong. Sino ba talaga at bakit ba talaga ano ba talaga nasa likod nitong kasong ito? (The question now is: Who is behind this case, what is his reason and why?)” he added.
“Noong tayo po ay solicitor general, hindi ko naisip na makialam sa investigation ng criminal matters dahil iyong power ng OSG in criminal cases ay limited doon sa appeal na mawawala iyong independence ng opisina na iyon kung sa lebel pa lang ng imbestigasyon ay nakikialam na sila,” argued former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
(When I was solicitor general, I did not think of meddling with the investigation of criminal matters because the power of the OSG when it comes to criminal cases is limited only to the appeal. The independence of the office will be tainted if it will intervene with the investigation.)
Miranda refused to make a statement to the media but she did mention a provision written in Executive Order 292 which allows the OSG to “act and represent the Republic and/or the people before any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action or proceeding which, in his opinion, affects the welfare of the people as the ends of justice may require.”
The respondents were supposed to submit their respective counter-affidavits but according to Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas they have received 15 motions already from the respondents.
Torrevillas heads the DOJ Panel.
Most of the respondents, Torrevilas said, have been requesting for a suspension of the trial until the latter gathers evidence from the CIDG.
The DOJ Panel gave the CIDG 10 days to produce the evidence and comply such as video footages of contained in a USB.
In case the motions are resolved, the respondents have until September 6 to submit their counter-affidavits.
Meanwhile, supporters of Robredo were determined despite the heavy rains.
“Hindi sedisyon ang sabihin ang katotohanan kaya narito po ang mamamayan na magpahayag para sabihin sa (Telling the truth is not an act of sedition, that’s why we’re here to tell the) Department of Justice: Drop the charges,” argued former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman. – MNP (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
The Office of the President has distanced itself from the Supreme Court (SC) decision that lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the hearing of the case against former president Benigno Aquino III on the Mamasapano encounter.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo has refused to further comment on the issue as the palace would not want to be accused of meddling with the decision of the judiciary which is a co-equal branch of government.
“[W]e refuse to comment on the action undertaken by the Supreme Court, which belongs to a separate and independent branch of government from ours. We cannot and we do not intend to interfere with the functions of other branches which are distinct from the Executive,” Panelo said.
The palace, he added, would rather see the judicial process roll on its own accord.
“We will, as usual, let the law take its course,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf
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