MANILA – The Office of the Solicitor General on Tuesday insisted the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is not required to produce all of its evidence in the sedition complaint it filed against Vice President Leni Robredo, more than 30 others currently under investigation by DOJ prosecutors.
“The established rule is that a preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive display of the parties’ evidence; it is for presentation of such evidence only as may engender a well-grounded belief that an offense has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof,” the OSG said in an omnibus motion dated August 19 and signed by no less than Solicitor General Jose Calida.
During the start of the DOJ probe on August 9, more than 15 respondents sought either to suspend the proceedings or inspect the evidence of complainant CIDG before they could file their counter-affidavits in response to the allegations.
They questioned why only the affidavit of Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula was attached to the subpoena and no other evidence were presented, claiming this violated their right to due process and to be informed of the allegations against them.
In previous media interviews, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said they have other evidence in their possession, aside from Advincula’s allegations.
In his affidavit, Advincula claimed he has copies of text messages and conversations of the alleged "Project Sodoma group" in various platforms, documents, keys and access cards to different accommodations he stayed in, cellphones, desktop and other gadgets, as well as fake identification cards. But respondents said they were not provided copies of these pieces of evidence.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors gave the CIDG 5 days to furnish respondents a copy of the USB attached to the referral letter containing the additional evidence. The panel warned, it will only resolve the case on the basis of the evidence submitted by the CIDG.
But respondents who received a copy of the USB said it only contained copies of the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos, which Advincula supposedly created in an attempt to link the first family and now Senator Bong Go to the illegal drug trade.
A source from the OSG said other pieces of evidence submitted to the DOJ include keys and access cards as well as admissions of respondents in their motions and pleadings.
Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the respondents, pointed out that Advincula’s affidavit does not specify the actions of each of the 38 respondents named and which of them committed which acts.
Aside from sedition, the respondents are facing inciting to sedition, libel, cyberlibel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice.
But the OSG, in its motion, said the CIDG made the necessary recital of facts to inform the respondents of the nature and cause of the accusation against them.
“[T]he requirement of stating the elements of the specific offense alleged to have been committed finds application when a complaint or information is already filed in court, but not during the preliminary investigation, the province of which is precisely to determine whether based from the recital of facts by the complainant, an offense has been committed and the respondents are probably guilty thereof,” it said.
ABS-CBN News had earlier pointed out some inconsistencies between the affidavits of Advincula submitted to the CIDG and the DOJ which his lawyer, Lorenzo Gadon, promised to address by filing a supplemental counter-affidavit.
However, during the August 9 probe, the OSG as CIDG’s counsel manifested that the complaint is “already complete and sufficient.”
The DOJ panel had temporarily set the submission of respondents’ counter-affidavits on September 6.
So far, only 5 respondents have submitted their counter-affidavits -- Lingayen, Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr., and lawyer Serafin Salvador and wife Carmelita.