MANILA - Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday called the sedition charges filed against him, Vice President Leni Robredo, and other opposition figures as "political persecution and harassment."
"The filing of cases against key members of the opposition are clear acts of political persecution and harassment by the Duterte administration meant to stifle democratic dissent," Trillanes said in a statement.
"The PNP-CIDG (Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) investigators clearly abused and misused the subpoena power recently bestowed on them to single out critics of the Duterte administration," he said.
In a statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said its National Prosecution Service received the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
The PNP-CIDG accused Trillanes, Robredo, senators Leila De Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and other opposition figures of sedition and other charges for alleged involvement in the viral "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos that tagged President Rodrigo Duterte's family in the drug trade.
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.
Trillanes, a staunch critic of Duterte and the presidential family, said he will face the charges against him and more.
"Anu't-ano pa man, haharapin ko ito at gagamitin kong pagkakataon na mailabas ang kaugnayan ni Duterte sa ilegal na droga," Trillanes said.
(Whatever happens, I will face this and take this opportunity to prove Duterte's links to illegal drug operations.)
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.
It was at the IBP headquarters last May that Advincula first appeared before the media and introduced himself as "Bikoy," supposedly a former record keeper of a drug ring.
Advincula then said all his allegations against the Duterte family were "scripted" and masterminded by opposition members who wanted to remove the President from power, which they denied.
The opposition said it had nothing to do with the videos and called Advincula's allegations "absurd."