Tril­lanes, 10 oth­ers or­dered ar­rested

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY MARIEJO RAMOS AND MAR­LON RAMOS

A Que­zon City court has or­dered the ar­rest of for­mer Sen. An­to­nio Tril­lanes IV and 10 oth­ers over the “Bikoy” videos that linked Pres­i­dent Duterte and his fam­ily to the drug trade. Judge Kris­tine Grace Suarez is­sued war­rants against the re­spon­dents, in­clud­ing two priests, an ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive, a for­mer tourism of­fi­cial and other pro­fes­sion­als, for al­legedly con­spir­ing to de­fame the Dutertes.

A Que­zon City court on Fri­day or­dered the ar­rest of for­mer senator An­to­nio Tril­lanes IV and 10 oth­ers over the widely cir­cu­lated “Bikoy” videos that linked Pres­i­dent Duterte and mem­bers of his fam­ily to the drug trade.

Judge Kris­tine Grace Suarez of the QC Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trial Court Branch 138 is­sued war­rants against Tril­lanes; Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Ad­vin­cula; Jon­nel Sang­galang; ad­ver­tis­ing agency ex­ec­u­tive Yolanda Ong-vil­lanueva; priests Fla­viano “Flavie” Vil­lanueva and Al­bert Alejo; for­mer tourism un­der­serc­re­tary Vi­cente R. Ro­mano III; Joel “JM” Sara­cho; Ed­uardo Acierto; Boom En­riquez, a for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions aide of Vice Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo; and a cer­tain “Monique.”

Prose­cu­tors said Ad­vin­cula ad­mit­ted to be­ing the hooded man in the videos, Sara­cho was the nar­ra­tor, En­riquez the videog­ra­pher with his as­sis­tant Monique, while Ong and Ro­mano acted as scriptwrit­ers.

‘Op­er­a­tion Sodoma’

Alejo al­legedly ar­ranged the record­ing fa­cil­i­ties where the videos were pro­duced while Vil­lanueva sup­pos­edly shel­tered Ad­vin­cula dur­ing the ac­tiv­ity, which was al­legedly called Op­er­a­tion Sodoma.

Suarez is­sued the war­rants af­ter the De­part­ment of Jus­tice, through Se­nior As­sis­tant State Prose­cu­tor Olivia Tor­re­vil­las, filed on Mon­day charges of con­spir­acy to com­mit sedi­tion af­ter the ac­cused pur­port­edly cir­cu­lated “ma­li­cious and scur­rilous li­bels” against the Pres­i­dent and his fam­ily.

At least four of the ac­cused have posted the rec­om­mended bail of P10,000 at press time.

Tril­lanes, who was out of the coun­try on Fri­day, said he would post bail once he re­turns next week.

“I will face this case just as I have faced all the other ha­rass­ment cases Duterte’s min­ions have filed against me,” said the for­mer senator, who is cur­rently a univer­sity lec­turer.

Tril­lanes faces two sedi­tion charges. Lawyers Manny Luna and Jac­into Parasa filed the first case in 2017 in Pasay City af­ter Tril­lanes said in a Se­nate speech that sol­diers could use M60 guns on the Pres­i­dent.

Luna, who has since been ap­pointed to the Pres­i­den­tial Anti-cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion, also filed a sec­ond case of in­cit­ing to sedi­tion against Tril­lanes for his Oc­to­ber 2018 state­ments that pur­port­edly en­cour­aged the over­throw of the gov­ern­ment.

Pasay case

Parasa also filed charges of grave threats against Tril­lanes in Septem­ber 2018 af­ter the for­mer senator sup­pos­edly threat­ened to kill Paras af­ter a Se­nate hear­ing. The case is pend­ing at the Pasay City Met­ro­pol­i­tan Trial Court Branch 47.

Ac­cord­ing to the DOJ’S court fil­ings, the 11 ac­cused were among 36 oth­ers who were al­legedly be­hind the so­called “Ang To­toong Nar­col­ist (The True Nar­col­ist)” videos that went vi­ral be­tween Au­gust 2018 and May 2019.

One of the 36, Rodel Jayme, the cre­ator of the Metrobalit­a. net web­site where the videos were posted, was ar­rested and charged with in­cit­ing to sedi­tion be­fore Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 258 where the case is still pend­ing. Jayme is de­tained at the city jail.

Lack of ev­i­dence

In fil­ing the charges on Mon­day, Tor­re­vil­las said the de­part­ment cleared 25 of the 36 of the charge of sedi­tion be­cause of lack of ev­i­dence.

The 25 in­cluded Ro­bredo, Sen­a­tors Risa Hon­tiveros and Leila de Lima, for­mer senator Bam Aquino, Arch­bishop Socrates Vil­le­gas, Bish­ops Pablo Vir­gilio David, Hon­esto Ong­ti­oco and Teodoro Ba­cani.

Tor­re­vil­las ex­plained that the charge of con­spir­ing to com­mit sedi­tion was eas­ier to prove in court be­cause mere agree­ment to act to­gether for a com­mon il­licit cause was enough to se­cure a con­vic­tion even with­out hav­ing to com­mit overt acts of sedi­tion.

State wit­ness

Un­der the Re­vised Pe­nal Code, con­spir­acy to com­mit sedi­tion is pun­ish­able with pri­sion cor­rec­cional, or im­pris­on­ment of two to four years plus a fine of P2,000.

Mean­while, Tor­re­vil­las clar­i­fied that the DOJ has not de­cided whether to use Ad­vin­cula as a state wit­ness in the case.

“We will as­sess the ev­i­dence. It is too early for us to tell right now that we will uti­lize him as one of our wit­nesses,” Tor­re­vil­las said.

Ad­vin­cula, who had an ear­lier con­vic­tion for estafa, was the main wit­ness of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice-crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion and De­tec­tion Group when it filed the orig­i­nal sedi­tion com­plaint against the 33 re­spon­dents.

I will face this case just as I have faced all the other ha­rass­ment cases Duterte’s min­ions have filed against me

An­to­nio Tril­lanes IV

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