‘Dismissal of Leni’s case not political’

Malacañang on Tuesday denied that the dismissal of the sedition case filed against Vice President Leni Robredo was an affirmation that it was merely a form of political harassment.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace never engages in “politicking” as alleged by Robredo’s camp.

“The prosecutors, those investigating prosecutors know their task—to find probable cause. If the evidence presented to them does not show there is, then they have no other alternative but to dismiss the case,” Panelo said in a press briefing.

Asked by reporters if there was politics involved in the dismissal of charges, Panelo said: “We never engage with politics.”

Robredo’s lawyer Barry Gutierrez said the decision of the Department of Justice Special Panel to dismiss sedition raps against the vice president proved that her alleged link to an ouster plot of President Rodrigo Duterte was just “fabricated.”

“It stands as vindication of what she has maintained from the start: That these ‘charges’ were never anything more than lies and political harassment,” Gutierrez said.

Robredo and members of the opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso, which she openly supported, have been accused of sedition for linking President Duterte to the drug trade.

The case was filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to the DOJ, but it was later on revealed that the Office of the Solicitor General had a hand in the complaint.

Panelo also reiterated that the Palace was not behind the sedition charges filed against Robredo.

“The President does not interfere in any proceeding involving the departments,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Palace kept its hands away from the administrative complaint filed by independent think-tank IBON Foundation against Duterte’s national security adviser and two other government officials.

Panelo said Malacañang “will let the law take its course” on the complaint filed by IBON against National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Communications and Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and Southern Luzon Command chief Major Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

IBON Foundation Inc. asked the Office of the Ombudsman to punish the three officials over their “unprofessional, unjust and insincere, politically biased” conduct for vilifying the think-tank and for linking them to Communist Party of the Philippines.

“The Ombudsman is an independent body, a constitutional body at that. It will perform its tasks,” Panelo said.

The complaint stemmed from Badoy’s remarks calling IBON a communist front during a television interview in January.

Last year, Badoy and Parlade accused IBON of “fabricated reports” for the United Nations and European Union. Esperon also tagged the group as among the non-government organizations which serve as legal fronts of communist rebels supported by the Belgian government.

IBON insisted that it is a foundation providing socio-political-economic analysis.

“We know that there’s more to red-tagging than mere vilification—it’s the administration’s gateway drug to more vicious persecution and even violent attacks on activists,” executive director Sonny Africa said.

Topics: sedition case , Vice President Leni Robredo , Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo , Department of Justice , DOJ
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