Calida urges DOJ to continue probe on sedition raps

MANILA Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to proceed with its investigation into the accusations against at least 36 persons, whom the police had filed cases against in connection with the "Ang Totoong Narco-List" video and the revelations of Peter Joemel Advincula also known as "Bikoy".

In an omnibus motion dated August 19, Calida underscored that an offense had been committed and that those behind it should be held accountable.

"(I)t is irrefutable that a crime has been committed. The release of the "Ang Totoong Narco-List alone is undisputed and self-evident that the crime of sedition / inciting to sedition, cyber libel and libel have all been committed," Calida said.

The motion filed before the DOJ prosecution panel urged for the preliminary investigation to continue and for the panel to deny the motions filed by the respondents for lack of legal and factual basis.

The respondents have sought to inhibit the OSG, as counsel for the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), and for law enforcement officials to bare other pieces of evidence they claim to have in their possession.

Calida also asked the DOJ panel to uphold the authority of the special panel of prosecutors to conduct the preliminary investigation and the OSG as the legal representative of the CIDG-National Capital Region Field Unit.

He said under Sec. 35, Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of Executive Order No. 292 the "Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers.

Calida said "the OSG represents the CIDG-NCRFU, to ensure that the respondents who probably committed a crime against the state, should be indicted in court and bring forth to justice."

"This case has been painted by respondents as an instrument to silence dissent. But, this claim is no more than a fragile attempt to silence the truth. For this case is about the respondents' betrayal of the Constitution and the people of the Philippines, nothing more," Calida said.

He also said the release and publication of the seditious online literature "Ang Totoong Narco-list," was meant to foment discord to entice the people to overthrow a duly constituted government.

The video vilified the name of the duly elected president, his family including his minor child, his close allies and aides, Calida said.

As to the presentation of additional evidence sought by the respondents, Calida said "in a preliminary investigation, the prosecution does not determine the guilt or innocence of an accused. The prosecutor only determines whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty.

"It does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. Only prima facie evidence is required," Calida pointed out.

The DOJ set the tentative hearing on September 5 after resolving the issues raised.

Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo and 34 others are facing charges of sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal/obstruction of justice.

Also named in the complaint were former senator Antonio Trillanes IV; Jonnell P. Sangalang; Eduardo Acierto; Senators Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel and Leila de Lima; former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Abdiel Fajardo; IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa, former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te; lawyers Minerva Ambrosio, Serafin Salvador, and Philip Sawali.

Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Paolo Benigno A. Aquino, lawyer Lorenzo "Erin" R. TaAada III, Gary Alejano, Florin Hilbay, Romulo Macalintal, and Jose Manuel Diokno were also charged.

Also charged were Yolando Villanueva Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Fr. Robert Reyes, Bro. Armin A. Luistro, Cubao Diocese Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco, retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, former Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas, publicist Boom Enriquez, Vicente R. Romano III, Danilo Songco, and film actor/activist Joel Saracho.

A certain alias "Sentrix" and "John Doe", along with Bikoy, were also named for their part in the so-called Project Sodoma, which was allegedly hatched to discredit administration candidates during the May 13 elections. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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