MANILA - In the face of "persecution", Vice President Leni Robredo is ready to face the charges filed against her for her alleged involvement in the viral videos that linked President Rodrigo Duterte's family to the drug trade.
Robredo's spokesman Atty. Barry Gutierrez said in a statement Friday that the Vice President is ready to face any charges and undergo legal procedures, saying she is used to "political harassment".
"Handa naman humarap si VP (Robredo) sa kahit na anong proseso. Sanay na kami sa ganitong harassment. Pero malinaw na harassment ito. Hindi ito isang lehitimong kaso na mayroon talagang matibay na batayan," Gutierrez said Friday.
(Vice President Robredo is ready to face any process. We are used to this kind of harassment. This is clearly harassment. These charges are not legitimate without real evidence.)
"Walang katotohanan iyan. Pawang imbento iyan. Kuwentong kutsero, tsismis," he said.
(The charges are false. They are lies, gossips.)
The Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) accused Robredo and other opposition figures of sedition, cyber libel, and other charges in connection with the viral "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos that tagged the Presidential family with illegal drugs.
The complaint was based on a sworn statement of Peter Joemel Advincula, the man who introduced himself as hooded figure "Bikoy" in the videos that made rounds on social media at the height of the May electoral campaign.
Advincula, in his statement, detailed "supposed meetings with the aforenamed personalities and how they planned what he referred to as 'Project Sodoma.' The project was to allegedly paint Duterte black and "destabilize his government by implicating him, his family and other government officials in drug syndicates."
Gutierrez emphasized Advincula's statements in his complaint are not good enough to present as evidence in the court. The Vice President, according to her spokesman, has not even met Advincula.
"In fact, gulat na gulat kami na pati si VP Leni isinangkot dito. Wala naman talaga siyang—hindi niya kilala itong si Advincula. Kahit kailan hindi sila nagkita," Gutierrez stressed.
The lawyer said the charges were "conveniently filed" after a Pulse Asia survey showed more Filipinos trusted and approved the performance of Robredo in the second quarter of 2019. She received a 55 percent approval rating and a 52 percent trust rating, an increase from the 49 percent and 47 percent ratings she received in the previous quarter, respectively.
"Napaka-convenient ng timing. Kung kailan in-announce na...lalong lumalakas ang suporta para sa ating Bise Presidente, biglang mayroon na namang ganitong klaseng kuwentong gustong palabasin, mayroong ganitong kaso na gustong isampa na klaro namang walang batayan," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said not only Robredo but also her staff will be ready for whatever they have to face amid the numerous charges thrown at the Vice President.
"...Handa kami sa lahat... at kung sa kabila nito mayroon talagang tao diyan na may masamang balak at hindi matanggap na siya ang nakaupo diyan, handa kaming harapin iyan. At tiwala kami na dahil wala naman siyang maling ginagawa, in fact, klarong-klaro na ang focus nga niya iyong pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan, wala kaming kailangang ikatakot," Gutierrez said.
"Mula simula, iyan ang mantra namin dito: 'Kapag walang maling ginagawa, hindi kailangang matakot. Harapin lang iyong kailangang harapin [dahil] sa dulo, tiwala kami na lalabas ang katotohanan,'" he added.
Other opposition figures charged were Leila De Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and their former colleague, Antonio Trillanes IV was also charged.
Also charged were 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 House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, who 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.