DOJ prosecutors thwart another attempt to introduce new evidence in sedition raps

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2019 09:50 PM

MANILA – A panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) thwarted yet another attempt by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to introduce new evidence against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and more than 30 others in the sedition complaint they are facing.

Two independent sources from the DOJ told ABS-CBN News Monday that the panel of prosecutors led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas denied Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula’s attempt to file a counter-affidavit on the ground that the period for filing it had lapsed.

The panel had earlier set September 6, Friday, as the deadline for filing of all counter-affidavits.

Despite being the only witness so far against all the respondents, Advincula is also among the respondents named in the sedition complaint and was required to submit a counter-affidavit.

“Respondents who failed to submit their counter-affidavit are considered to have waived their right to controvert/submit controverting evidence,” read the minutes of the preliminary investigation last Friday.
 
Only 3 respondents were allowed to submit counter-affidavits beyond the deadline: detained Sen. Leila de Lima who was due to subscribe to her affidavit Monday in her detention cell in Camp Crame, Chel Diokno who was out of the country, and Danilo Songco who was granted an extension because he received his subpoena belatedly.

ATTEMPT TO FILE COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT
 
A CIDG officer told ABS-CBN News at around 3:30pm Monday that they were preparing to file Advincula’s counter-affidavit. Spotted inside the CIDG’s vehicle were a pile of documents.

But less than 30 minutes later, Advincula and his lawyer Lorenzo Gadon emerged from the docket office of the National Prosecution Service saying they will instead file a manifestation in the coming days adopting Advincula’s affidavit as his counter-affidavit.

Gadon also said they will attach to the manifestation the affidavits of Guillermina Barrido and Perfecto Tagalog, who both claimed Trillanes had, at some point, recruited them to smear the President’s name.

In August, Barrido filed a kidnapping with serious illegal detention complaint with the DOJ against Trillanes and 3 others while Tagalog submitted an affidavit to the CIDG.
 
The former senator has denied having met Barrido and Tagalog.

Gadon added he will include the article of Jude Sabio, the lawyer who filed a communication with the International Criminal Court against the President’s war on drugs but who had recently revealed Trillanes tried to recruit him to lawyer for Advincula.
 
Sabio told ABS-CBN News he had a falling out with Trillanes over a P700,000 unpaid billing and has expressed openness to testifying against the former senator.

SAME WITNESSES REJECTED BY DOJ PANEL
 
Barrido, Tagalog, and Sabio were the same witnesses the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had tried but failed to introduce in the sedition probe on Friday.

The same panel ruled it was the OSG itself that declared during the previous hearing in August that its evidence and complaint were complete.

Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda tried to argue the evidence were not additional but “new” evidence that surfaced after the filing of the sedition complaint but the panel rejected her plea to be allowed to submit a reply-affidavit and for the panel to issue a subpoena to Sabio.

Up until Friday, the CIDG and the OSG had relied solely on Advincula’s affidavit in accusing Trillanes, Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition figures, lawyers, members of the clergy and other personalities of sedition, inciting to sedition, libel, cyber libel, among other raps over an alleged plot to oust the President, aside from the “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos where Advincula appeared linking Duterte and his family to the illegal drug trade.

But in its referral letter, CIDG-National Capital Region OIC P/LtCol. Arnold Thomas Ibay reserved the presentation of additional evidence, particularly CCTV footage and logbook for various establishments.
 
During the first hearing, 15 respondents moved to suspend the proceedings pending receipt of all the evidence from the complainant.

They condemned the OSG’s attempt to introduce new evidence as a form of “fishing expedition.”

ATTEMPT TO CIRCUMVENT DOJ RULING

Sought for comment, Trillanes’ lawyer, Rey Robles, said their camp will vehemently oppose Advincula’s filing of a counter-affidavit, saying that it is “clearly an attempt to circumvent the ruling of the DOJ panel that no additional evidence in support of the complaint will be admitted after the hearing of August 9, 2019.”

Robles added that Advincula’s filing of a counter-affidavit will be considered “waived” because he failed to file it on or before the September 6 deadline.

“Note that he never gave any valid excuse or made any reservation for the late filing thereof,” he said in a text message.

“This also shows that the OSG is desperate in trying to bolster the clearly weak and wishy washy complaint they prepared and filed for the PNP-CIDG in this case,” he added.