MANILA - Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Friday called as “badly written telenovela” and “awful script,” the sedition charges filed against her and several others in connection to a series of viral videos that linked President Rodrigo Duterte’s family to the drug trade.
“It is a badly-written telenovela. Bad acting. Awful script. Terrible plot twist. It is also a total waste of taxpayers' money,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Instead of devoting human resources and money to pursue big-time drug lords and other criminals, our police force goes on a wild goose chase to further harass and intimidate the democratic opposition.”
A series of YouTube clips titled "Totoong Narco-list" before the 2019 elections claimed drug money was funneled into the bank accounts of Duterte's son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, his son-in-law Atty. Manases Carpio, and former aide, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
"Bikoy," a hooded figure in the videos, claimed that he used to keep financial records for the drug syndicate that allegedly had dealings with the Duterte family.
On May 6, Peter Joemel Advincula surfaced at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines headquarters and claimed he was "Bikoy." He claimed he was not paid by the opposition Otso Diretso slate, only to flip-flop weeks later and link the Liberal Party and other figures to the viral videos.
HONTIVEROS: RAPS MEANT TO DISTRACT
The Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) on Thursday filed charges of sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice against Vice President Leni Robredo, opposition senators Hontiveros and Leila De Lima and their former colleague, Antonio Trillanes IV.
The complaint was based on Advincula’s sworn statement. The Department of Justice said Advincula, in his statement, detailed "supposed meetings with the aforenamed personalities and how they planned what he referred to as 'Project Sodoma.'"
Hontiveros said she finds it “ludicrous” that after assailing Advincula’s credibility for accusing the Dutertes of having links to the illegal drug trade, the PNP now considers him credible flip-flopping and pointing to opposition figures as being behind the videos.
She added she finds it odd that the charges were filed days before the President’s 4th State of the Nation Address, hinting it could be a diversionary tactic.
“I fear that this is another attempt to introduce a ‘distracting narrative’ to the people to veer public attention away from the real issues surrounding the country's state of affairs,” Hontiveros said.
“We will not be distracted. We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. Even against overwhelming odds, we will continue to speak truth to power and defend democracy and human rights in the country.”
Also charged were former Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, former Sen. Bam Aquino, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Moro civic leader Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and former House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, who all ran for the Senate under opposition slate Otso Diretso in the May elections but lost.
The same charges were also filed against vocal critics of the Duterte administration including Archbishops Socrates Villegas and Pablo Virgilio David, Bishops Honesto Ongtioco and Teodoro Bacani Jr., and priests Albert Alejo and Robert Reyes.
Former Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro and former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te and several officials of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) were also cited in the complaint.