MANILA – (UPDATE) Despite Malacañang’s repeated denial of any involvement in the sedition complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition figures, ABS-CBN News has learned that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had a hand in drafting the affidavit of Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy.
This is based on ABS-CBN News’ examination of the soft copy of the document which Advincula’s lawyer, Lorenzo Gadon, released to the media on Friday, as confirmed by multiple sources from the OSG.
ABS-CBN News on Saturday checked the authors of a Microsoft Word document of Advincula’s affidavit and subsequently traced the identities of two individuals named in the document.
The search revealed the author of the Word document works as a senior secretary for an Assistant Solicitor General while the one who reviewed the document is a lawyer, according to sources from the OSG.
ABS-CBN News also obtained a copy of the OSG directory showing both belong to the same division.
The Word document showed that the draft, which appears to be the 3rd version based on its document title, was created on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at 7:35 pm and was edited for a total 230 minutes.
ABS-CBN News reached out to the OSG, which has yet to issue a statement as of writing.
A source from the OSG justified their involvement saying the OSG is the lawyer for the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo dismissed the report insisting the government has nothing to do with the sedition complaint.
“The drafting (of the affidavit) would be…on the shoulders of the lawyer of Bikoy,” he said.
“We have nothing to do with it,” he added.
In an interview on Tuesday, Gadon initially claimed he himself prepared Advincula’s affidavit and no one else assisted him.
“Wala, wala, wala. Ako lang…Bale ako lang assisting counsel sa kanya,” he said.
(None, none, none. I was his only assisting counsel.)
Asked about the two individuals whose names were found in the Word document, he said it must have been the names of the PNP-CIDG’s clerical staff.
“It’s a mechanical work, yung typing, yung printing, I am not involved there anymore,” he said.
(It’s a mechanical work, the typing and printing, I am not involved there anymore.)
But when told ABS-CBN News was able to confirm that the two persons are currently working for the OSG, Gadon relented.
“Actually, hindi ko talaga rin alam kung sino nagreview niyan, yung nagfinal review before printing. Pero if ever na na-review nila ‘yan, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing sinister with that because you have to remember that the OSG is the lawyer of the government. If ever that the CIDG would seek help for reviewing the legalities of the statements, pwede naman nilang gawin yun,” he said.
(Actually, I don’t really know who reviewed the document before printing. But if ever it was reviewed by them, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing sinister with that because you have to remember that the OSG is the lawyer of the government. If ever that the CIDG would seek help for reviewing the legalities of the statements, they can do that.)
Gadon downplayed concerns his client, who is one of the respondents in the multiple criminal complaint, risks incriminating himself if the PNP-CIDG and the OSG prepared his affidavit.
“Nireview ko rin naman yun. In fact, yung mga sinasabi niya doon are also corroborated by some [pieces of] evidence, kaya naniniwala ako na totoo ang sinasabi ni Bikoy,” he explained.
(I reviewed the affidavit. In fact, what he said were corroborated by evidence, that’s why I believe what Advincula is saying is true.)
Constitutional law expert former Dean Pacifico Agabin told ABS-CBN News Tuesday there’s nothing illegal if indeed the OSG reviewed Advincula’s affidavit because the OSG is the government’s lawyer but it may not look good on the part of government.
“Hindi magandang tingnan in the larger context, sa konteksto ng position ng mga parties involved. Yung mga respondents e opposition lahat, kaya it might be seen as an attempt to silence the opposition,” he said.
(It might not look good in the larger context, in the context of the position of the parties. Most of the respondents are all opposition figures so it might be be seen as an attempt to silence the opposition.)
In a Facebook post, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay expressed dismay over the development.
"Nakakalungkot ang mga pangyayaring ito hindi lamang para sa bayan kundi na rin para sa Office of the Solicitor General, isang opisinang aking dating pinagsilbihan at may kasaysayan ng mahusay at matapat na pagsisilbi sa bayan," he wrote.
(These events are saddening not only for the country but also for the Office of the Solicitor General, an office I once served and has a history of good and just service to the country.)
Hilbay is one of the respondents named in the sedition complaint before the DOJ.
Advincula’s affidavit was the basis for the PNP-CIDG in filing a sedition and inciting to sedition complaint with the Department of Justice on Thursday against Robredo, Trillanes, and more than 30 other personalities.
These personalities include former and current senators, Otso Diretso senatorial candidates, lawyers and members of the Catholic Church who are critical of the President.
They are also facing accusations of libel, cyberlibel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice.
In his affidavit, Advincula accused them of plotting to overthrow Duterte and installing Robredo as president and Trillanes as vice president before June 30, 2019 by spreading false news against Duterte, including the viral “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos linking the first family to the illegal drug trade.
In May, Solicitor General Jose Calida accused the officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) of politicizing the lawyers’ group by allowing Advincula to hold a press conference at the IBP office in Ortigas.
He also called for the resignation of then-IBP National President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, who is one of those named in the sedition complaint.