Respondents in the sedition complaint filed by the Philippine National Police against Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition personalities have asked the Department of Justice to reject the complaint for lack of personality and the appearance of the Office of the Solicitor General as counsel for the complainant during the preliminary investigation of the case.
Former Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyers Manuel Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada, who are all respondents in the sedition complaint, argued that the OSG is only authorized to represent the government in criminal proceedings before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals only.
In separate motions filed by Alejano and Diokno along with Tanada, they cited the SC ruling in Urbano vs. Chavez which held that the chief state lawyer cannot appear in preliminary investigation.
In the same ruling, the respondents argued that the high court emphasized that if the OSG lawyers are respondent public officer during a preliminary investigation, it effectively restraint itself to a position that would prevent it from credibly performing its role as the government’s appellate counsel should that respondent’s conviction be challenged on appeal.
“With the Urbano doctrine firmly in place, the OSG is thus prohibited from any participation in any criminal proceedings, whether on behalf of the prosecution or the defense, at any time before the appellate stage, where it will have to stand against the accused as the government’s appeal counsel,” the motions stated.
“While the OSG has two-tiered role as the lawyer of the government and as the People’s Tribune, it cannot act as both in the same case. It must choose its role so as not to confuse the courts as to its standing,” the respondents said.
They insisted that OSG’s representation of the complainant, in this case, is “ unprecedented, unparalleled, and unusual in zeal and persistence” in handling the case.
The complaint for sedition/inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, and harboring a criminal/obstruction of justice against Robredo and 35 other officials and personalities was filed by PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group last July 18.
Aside from Robredo, included as respondents were Senators Ana Theresa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Leila M. De Lima, former senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, “Otso Diretso” candidates Gary C. Alejano, Florin T. Hilbay, Romulo B. Macalintal, Jose Manuel I. Diokno, Paolo Benigno A. Aquino, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, and Lorenzo R. Tañada III.
Archbishops Pablo S. Virgilio S. David and Socrates B. Villegas, Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani and Honesto F. Ongtico, Bro. Armin Luistro, and clergy members Robert Reyes and Albert E. Alejo.
Also named as respondents were former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Abdiel Dan Elijah S. Fajardo, incumbent IBP President Egon Q. Cayosa lawyers Minerva Ambrosio, Theodore O. Te, Serafin Salvador, and Philip Sawali.
They are being accused of being behind the release of the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” featuring Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy, the hooded man in the videos which linked President Duterte, his family members and several associates in the illegal drug trade in the country.
Advincula is among those charged but he is likely to be used as state witness for the prosecution.
In his affidavit, Advincula alleged that the release of the videos was part of the so-called Project Sodoma hatched by the respondents.
Project Sodoma allegedly sought to publicly discredit the President and destabilize his government by implicating him, his family, and other government officials in drug syndicates.
The Project, which was allegedly planned as early as August 2018, was also intended allegedly to derail the senatorial bid of the candidates under the Hugpong Pagbabago in the last election and at the same time prop up those from the opposition Otso Diretso.