MANILA - The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday said they are ready to face the sedition charges against her even if they know that this is a clear case of political harassment to send fear to those critical of the administration.
"The message is one really of fear. People talk about the chilling effect. You can't get any greater chilling effect than seeing high officials, including the second highest official in the land--the Vice President--being subjected to this kind of harassment," said Robredo's spokesperson, Atty. Barry Gutierrez.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Gutierrez said they have yet to get a copy of the supposed evidence that was submitted to the Department of Justice to justify the referral for inciting to sedition and other crimes.
"We can't help but speculate that there is indeed a political motivation behind all this," he said, citing the Philippine National Police's move to initiate a full blown preliminary investigation despite the weakness of the case.
He also said the plan of lawyer Larry Gadon to file an impeachment complaint against Robredo if she is indicted for sedition "reveals the ultimate intention behind the filing of this criminal case."
Likewise, he also finds it as a highly irregular practice that the Office of the Solicitor General would be involved in this particular case.
ABS-CBN News found that 2 employees of the Office of the Solicitor General had a hand in drafting Advincula's affidavit. Gadon, however, said the PNP only consulted the OSG in filing the case.
"All that taken together hindi namin maiiwasang isipin na hindi ito ordinaryong criminal case pero meron talagang political motive behind it," he said.
Gutierrez said what the OSG did was not unconstitutional nor illegal.
"But the question you have to ask is - why in this case? The PNP files thousands of cases a year, refers it to the DOJ. How many cases in the last year or actually in the last 3 years has the OSG assisted in that sense? If the answer is 'ito lang', the question is why this particular case? What is so special about this case?" he said.
The PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group used Peter Joemel Advincula's sworn statement to file charges of sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice against Robredo, opposition senators Leila De Lima and Risa Hontiveros, their former colleague, Antonio Trillanes IV, and several others.
Advincula earlier claimed he was paid by opposition figures to appear in the "Totoong Narcolist" series of viral videos that linked President Duterte's family and allies to the narcotics trade. He accused Robredo and other opposition figures of plotting to overthrow Duterte, which was swiftly denied by the opposition.
"We're ready to face any investigation. We are confident walang laman ito. What we're wondering about is why the PNP makes a distinction between a testimony na hindi credible dahil laban sa gubyerno and testimony suddenly credible because it is against people critical of the government," he said.
Gutierrez said that Robredo is in the process of forming her entire legal team to take the case on.
"In the meantime, we would like to believe assurances of Sec. [Menardo] Guevara of the DOJ that this will be a fair process, that they will be impartial," he said.