Bishops accused of sedition submit counter-affidavits

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2019 05:07 PM

MANILA – Three bishops accused of plotting the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte have submitted their counter-affidavits to the sedition complaint pending before the Justice department.

Retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. on Thursday afternoon filed his counter-affidavit before Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, accompanied by his lawyer Christian Monsod.

Bacani arrived at around 2 p.m. and stayed for less than 20 minutes inside Torrevillas’ office before leaving without giving any statements to the media.

His lawyer, Monsod, promised all the bishops named in the sedition complaint will hold a press conference to address the allegations.

Four bishops were mentioned in the affidavit of Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula, the basis for the sedition complaint.

Bacani, Lingayen Arch. Bishop Soc Villegas, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco were accused of being part of Project Sodoma’s shadow group which provided financial, logistical, security and accommodations support to the ouster plot.

According to a source from the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service, Villegas and David have also submitted their counter-affidavits Thursday.

David is the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) while Villegas was a former CBCP president.

The CBCP and all 4 bishops have denied involvement in Project Sodoma.

ABS-CBN News earlier pointed out inconsistencies in two versions of Advincula’s affidavits – one subscribed to before the CIDG on May 29 and the other submitted to the DOJ on July 18.

In his CIDG affidavit, Advincula claimed he and Fr. Albert Alejo went to a meeting with Senator Antonio Trillanes, his bodyguard Jonell, and Bishop David on February 9, 2019 at the Bishop’s House in Caloocan where they supposedly discussed making some noise for the upcoming elections.

But in his DOJ affidavit, he said instead that while in a meeting with Bishop David in Caloocan, Trillanes called Fr. Alejo through ProtonMail, a secure email service, to discuss granting an exclusive interview about his affidavit.

ABS-CBN news obtained a copy of a court document showing Trillanes was scheduled to be in the United States from January 27 to February 10 this year.

The only other allegation of involvement by the bishops in Advincula’s DOJ affidavit is his supposed meeting with Villegas, Fr. Alejo, and Trillanes’ security aide Jonell at the Jesuit Residences at the Ateneo de Manila University on December 12, 2018.

Ongtioco’s name was also misspelled in the DOJ affidavit as “Onesto Ongchoco.”

ABS-CBN News has yet to obtain a copy of the counter-affidavits of the bishops.