Robredo counters inciting to sedition complaint, denies meeting with ‘Bikoy’

Robie de Guzman   •   August 29, 2019   •   419

Vice President Leni Robredo filed her counter-affidavit for the sedition case filed against her on Thursday, August 29, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Manila. VP Leni signed her counter-affidavit and swore under oath before DOJ Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas. (Photo by Charlie Villegas / OVP)

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday (August 28) denied allegations she met Peter Joemel Advincula, who accused the former of being behind the online videos linking the Duterte family to narcotics trade.

In her counter-affidavit in relation to inciting to sedition complaint filed against her by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), Robredo maintained she did not take part in an alleged destabilization plot against the Duterte administration, through a meeting supposedly held at the Ateneo de Manila University on March 4, 2019.

Robredo filed her counter-affidavit at the Department of Justice, personally appearing to sign it under oath before Justice Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas. She was accompanied by her lawyer, Marlon Manuel.  

Along with her counter-affidavit, Robredo also provided photos, news reports and other documentation to prove that she was in Bulacan on March 4 for official engagements.

Advincula, who claimed to be the hooded figure ‘Bikoy’ in the online “Ang Totoong Narco List” video series, earlier said the videos were orchestrated by the opposition Liberal Party under the guidance of Senator Antonio Trillanes III.

He said he met with Robredo and other opposition members in March to discuss “Project Sodoma” – an alleged plot to oust Duterte.

He also accused Robredo and other opposition members of forcing him to speak lies about the Duterte family’s supposed links to the narcotics trade.

Robredo and other opposition figures have earlier denied Advincula’s claims.

Robredo said the evidence she submitted to the DOJ will prove that Advincula’s allegations were “impossible” and an “outright lie”.

She also slammed the statement made by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), acting as counsel to the PNP-CIDG in an Omnibus Comment it filed earlier, which erroneously insisted that she “repeatedly met” with Advincula.

This, Robredo noted, “directly contradicts” the allegation the witness-respondent made in his Sinumpaang Salaysay.

OSG’s claims, she said, clearly “underscores that the purported charges are aimed at hounding and oppressing me simply because I am perceived as critical of the current administration.”

“The false and perjurious Sinumpaang Salaysay and the Letter-Complaint should be viewed with the highest degree of caution and suspicion not only because of the unreliable nature of the allegations as discussed above, but because of the very nature of the charges itself,” Robredo’s counter-affidavit read.

“It has been held that ‘[s]edition is the crime usually resorted to by tyrants as a pretext to silence or suppress those persons who have the firmness of character to oppose them and expose their abuses.’”

Atty. Manuel noted that there are no other allegations stated against the Vice President, and that the charges were based solely on Advincula’s Sinumpaang Salaysay.

“Isa lang iyong paragraph na nag-aakusa sa kaniya ng isang gawain na diumano ay isang krimen. May pitong krimen na isinama doon sa reklamo laban sa kaniya at iyon ang isinagot namin at pinatunayan namin na kasinungalingan—iyong nakalagay doon sa counter-affidavit na siya ay dumalo sa isang diumano ay pagpupulong sa Ateneo na ginawa noong March 4,” he told reporters after the filing.

“Wala nang ibang ebidensya. And as far as the Vice President is concerned, it’s just that one paragraph that accuses her of a direct action—and that is a complete falsehood,” he added.

Robredo honors all freedom fighters during Marcos era on Ninoy Aquino Day

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday honored the sacrifices of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, and all Filipinos like him who fought against dictatorship and for the restoration of freedom in the country.

In a message to mark Ninoy’s 36th death anniversary, Robredo recalled how Ninoy’s death had inspired a movement that brought down the “rapacious” regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

“Every Filipino alive at that time remembers where they were when Ninoy fell. It was the defining moment for an entire generation: a moment that would inspire a movement that would ultimately bring down the dictator three years later, and bring about a restoration of the freedom Ninoy had given up his life and liberty fighting for,” Robredo said.

The vice president also pointed out that Ninoy was not the only one who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country’s freedom.

“Thousands of Filipinos fell during the dark years of dictatorship, resisting till their last breath the cruelty and corruption it brought. Thousands more were estranged from their families, were thrown into prison, were subjected to brutality and humiliation. Many of them remain nameless and unheralded in our memorials and history books,” she said.

“So, when we celebrate the 21st of August, it is not just Ninoy Aquino we remember, but all those like him, both the nameless and the heralded, who gave of themselves so that we could be free,” she added.

“In this remembrance, we express both our deepest gratitude for the sacrifices made on our behalf, and, perhaps more significantly, our persistent commitment to defend the freedom they won back for us.”

Robredo also lambasted those who “dismiss the significance of Ninoy’s sacrifice,” or “question the validity of the movement it inspired,” and those who are pushing a revised version of history, claiming that the Marcos regime “was not so bad after all.”

“The simple truth is, Ninoy Aquino was a Filipino who gave his life for his country. His love for his homeland was seen not in easy talk or slick PR stunts, but instead blazed brightly through long years of imprisonment, of exile, and in the end, of martyrdom,” she said.

“Many talk about being willing to die for our country. Ninoy was one of the courageous few who actually did,” she added.

Ninoy, a staunch critic of the Marcos government, was assassinated upon his return from a three-year exile in the United States on August 21, 1983. He was shot and killed at he was shot and killed at the then Manila International Airport (now named after him) as he was escorted off the airplane.

Ninoy’s death led to protests that sparked snap presidential elections in 1986, which led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution that catapulted his wife, Cory Aquino to presidency.

‘Bikoy’ files for witness protection program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 5, 2019

Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy

Peter Joemel Advincula, alias Bikoy, has formally applied for the witness protection program of the government on Monday (Aug 5).

Advincula along with his lawyer, Atty. Larry Gadon went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to submit their application.

READ: DOJ summons Robredo, 35 others over sedition raps

Their camp expects that the application will be approved as soon as possible especially when the preliminary investigation for the inciting to sedition complaint is set to begin on Friday.

Advindula has filed the said case against Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition members.

According to Gadon, Advincula’s life is in danger since he stood up against big and influential individuals.

“Marami siyang nare-receive na deaths threats. Alam kasi nila iyong cell number ni Peter and alam nila iyong emails so talagang nakaka-receive siya (He receieve a lot of death threats. They know Peter’s cell number and they also know his emails so he does receive threats),” he said.

Advincula already paid a fine for his cyberlibel case on July 31. His camp will also file a supplemental affidavit on August 9 to clarify the inconsistencies in the statement he filed at the DOJ and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

Access to aid in quake-hit Itbayat, Batanes remains a challenge – Robredo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 31, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The deployment of relief goods to parts of Itbayat town in Batanes remains a challenge four days since two successive earthquakes jolted the area, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday.

Robredo made the observation after visiting the town earlier in the day to personally see the damages left by the temblor and to distribute relief packs to earthquake victims.

“Iyong pagkain, challenge. Iyong construction materials, challenge, dahil sa layo ng lugar. Mayroong mga barko na pumupunta, pero it takes a while bago makarating,” she said.

“Gaya noong dala namin, three days pa siya bago makarating. Halimbawa, iyong PAL (Philippine Airlines) nag-o-offer na makapagpadala sa kanila for free, pero hanggang Basco lang iyon, so kailangan pa din i-transport iyong mga goods. So ano talaga, mahirap. Kahit urgent, hindi talaga mamadali, dahil sa hirap ng pagpunta,” she added.

Robredo also noted that the steel bars, to be used for the rebuilding of damaged structures, are the most difficult to transport since these are too heavy for boats.

“Siguro iyong Navy ship iyong kailangan,” she said.

“Malawak iyong destruction. Iyong pinuntahan natin na barangay, iyong Santa Maria, tapos iyong dinaanan, San Rafael, sobrang dami ng bahay na nasira,” she added.

The vice president also stressed the need for the urgent building of shelters for affected residents.

“Siguro iyong first na pinaka-urgent, na may matulugan na sila na mas maayos. Mayroon naman tayong mga dala na gamit, pero mas pang-temporary siya. Siguro sa lalong madaling panahon, iyong pinaka-mahalaga, maka-build na ng temporary shelters,” she said.

Due to the damages sustained in Itbayat town, Robredo suggested for the local government unit to strengthen the prepositioning of relief goods and implement protocols for quick disaster response.

“Dapat mayroon na sanang, parang, protocols. Na kapag may nangyayari dito, paano iyong pagdala ng tulong. Kasi naaalala ko, in 2016, noong Typhoon Ferdie, nandito din ako, eh. Nandito din ako sa Itbayat, same problem. Iyong pinaka-problema talaga, kahit may sasakyan, mahaba talaga iyong travel time, eh. So siguro iyong kailangang i-consider din, magkaroon na ng… parang naka-store na provisions (of aid) lalo na sa pagkain,” she said.

“Iyong isa pa, talagang ang health services dito, iyong mga hospital, kailangan talagang paglaanan ng maraming tulong, para kapag may ganito, dahil malayo iyong mga dadalhan, dapat equipped noong mga kailangan,” she added.

The entire province of Batanes is listed in the UNESCO tentative list for inscription in the World Heritage list due to the intangible heritage elements of the Ivatan people, including their stone houses.

But Robredo said that following the quake, there is now a need to ‘tweak’ the design of stone houses in Batanes to withstand strong earthquakes.

Batanes residents are much prepared for tropical cyclones as the province, which sits in the northernmost part of the country, is usually in the path of storms entering the Philippines.

“Iyong sa akin, baka kailangan balikan na in preserving the stone houses, tingnan na kung paano niya mawi-withstand iyong ganito. Siguro kailangang i-tweak iyong design, iyong engineering design. Wala kasi siyang mga kabilya, eh. Talagang mga bato lahat,” Robredo said.

“Tama iyong sabi ni Gov, na for a very long time, ang pinaghahandaan kasi nila bagyo. Ngayon lang nag-strike itong ganitong katinding lindol, saka lang nila naisip na may problema pala iyong… parang iyong original design ng mga bahay dito,” she added.

The Vice President said they visited earthquake victims to extend assistance through its Angat Buhay initiative which partners with private companies in providing aid to communities in need.

They also donated an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine for the local hospital.

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