By Beting Laygo Dolor | Contributing Editor
Insisting that they have sufficient evidence to pursue their inciting to sedition case against Vice-president Leni Robredo and 35 others, the Philippine National Police (PNP) rejected all calls to stand down.
The PNP’s claim to have a sufficient case against the Vice-president spurred the Department of Justice to issue a summons to Robredo and company, with a preliminary investigation on the case set for August 9.
Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra gave a public assurance that the case will be treated with “utmost fairness.”
Guevarra said, “the evidence, or the lack of it, will speak for itself.”
The reaction in support of Robredo was quick, notably over social media where a petition to dismiss the inciting to sedition charge was started by an impromptu group called Protect VP Leni (@ProtectVpLeni).
Within its first few hours, some 15,000 supporters signed the on-line petition.
The Vice-president’s spokesman, Barry Gutierrez, said she was “ready to face trumped up charges,” adding that the case was clearly “politically motivated.”
Gutierrez likewise stated that the inciting to sedition case was a precursor to a planned impeachment case to be filed against the Vice-president by lawyer Larry Gadon, a defeated senate bet identified with the camp of former president and speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Gadon appears to have been emboldened by his leading the charge that resulted in the removal of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. Gadon is said to be preparing another impeachment case against SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Malacañang disavowed any knowledge of such an impeachment plan.
The inciting to sedition case filed by the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group stemmed from a series of videos released at the height of the campaign period earlier this year. In the video, a man called “Bikoy” claimed that the family of President Duterte was involved in the illegal drug trade.
Bikoy was later revealed to be Peter Joemel Advincula who after calling for a press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) headquarters then went into hiding, only to re-surface to claim that he had been coerced to appear on the video at the behest of the opposition Liberal Party, headed by Robredo.
In an odd turn of events, no less than PNP Chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde first dismissed Advincula as an “Information peddler” bereft of credibility because of his claims against the Duterte family, only to have the PNP hold a press conference where the testimony of Bikoy was reversed.
With his turn-around, critics asked why Advincula suddenly became a credible witness. Based on legal records, Advincula was previously convicted of estafa, and also has a pending case for the same offense.
Furthermore, during the Aquino administration, Advincula was also known to have offered dirt on the political opposition at that time. The offer was rejected by the Aquino government.
Aside from the Vice-president, the other respondents to the inciting to sedition case include incumbent Senators Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima; former senators Bam Aquino and Antonio Trillanes IV; the entire Otso Deretso senate slate in the May elections (except Mar Roxas), namely Chel Diokno, Romulo Makalintal, Florin Hilbay, Samira Gutoc, Erin Tanada and Gary Alejano; retired Roman Catholic archbishop Socrates Villegas, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Vice-president Pablo Virgilio David and “running priest” Robert Reyes; officials of the IBP led by national President Domingo Cayosa as well as former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te; former education secretary and De La Salle University president Brother Armin Luistro; and advertising executive Yolanda Villanueva Ong.