Trillanes charged

February 10, 2020
Antonio Trillanes IV

The former senator and 10 others indicted over ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’ anti-Duterte videos

THE Department of Justice has indicted former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and 10 other individuals tagged in the “Ang Tutoong Narcolist” videos, which implicated President Duterte and some of his family members in the illegal drugs trade. 

The DOJ said probable cause was established against the acused during preliminary investigation into the complaints filed by the Philippine National Police.

The criminal information was already filed before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court. 

Aside from Trillanes, also indicted were Joenel Peter Advincula alias Bikoy, Joel Saracho, Boom Enriquez, a certain @Monique, Yolanda V. Ong, Vicente Romano III, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Jonnel P. Sangalang, and Eduardo Acierto.

Citing Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code, the DOJ said criminal liability arises for individuals who conspire or agree to raise commotions and disturbances to attain by force, intimidation, or any other means outside of the legal methods any of the following objectives:

 a) to prevent the promulgation or execution of any law or the holding of any popular election;  b) to prevent the National Government, or any Provincial or Municipal Government, or any public officer thereof, from freely exercising its or his functions, or prevent the execution of any administrative order; c) to inflict any act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of any public officer or employee; d) to commit, for any political or social end, any act of hate or revenge against private persons or any social class; and e) to despoil, for any political or social end, any person, municipality or province, or the National Government of all its property or any part thereof. 

The panel of prosecutors explained that the following “interlocking pieces of proof” provide a “complete picture of the grand conspiracy between and among some respondents to create hatred or revenge against the President and his family with the end in view of toppling and destabilizing the current administration”:

1. The online publication of the Bikoy videos.  The videos, divided into six (6) episodes, insinuated that members of the President’s family and political allies were receiving pay-offs from drug syndicates.  These videos, the Panel found, were made by respondents Advincula; Saracho (who acted as their narrator); Enriquez (videographer) and his assistant, @Monique; Ong and Romano (scriptwriters).  The Panel likewise found that Fr. Alejo prepared the JesCom where the videos were taken;

2. The press conference of respondent Advincula at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines where he, among others, admitted to being “Bikoy,” the supposed whistleblower featured in the videos;

3. The press statement of respondent Acierto on 25 March 2019 where he accused the President, his family and his close associates of supposed links to drugs and drug syndicates; and

4. Admissions made by respondents, especially the allegations of Advincula and certain admissions of former Senator Trillanes which bolster the “existence of a grand conspiracy between and among some respondents to commit the crime of sedition.”

Sometime in April 2019 before the mid-term elections, videos implicating members of the President’s family and his close associates to supposed links in the drug trade were made public.

Advincula would later surrender to authorities and claim that the videos were made and released as part of “Project Sodoma” designed to make “fake news and false stories about the President, his family and his associates.

The aim was to erode public trust in the President, remove him from office, and install Robredo as president, Trillanes as vice president, and boost the candidacy of the “Otso Diretso” senatorial line-up.

Advincula submitted as evidence, among others, USB drives, photographs of the respondents, keys and access cards of the places where he and his companions stayed, as well as utility bills and receipts, copies of the purchase receipts of the gadgets and electronic devices used in the making of the videos.

Meanwhile, the panel exonerated Vice President Leni Robredo, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and several other individuals that included Catholic bishops.

In a statement, the panel of prosecutors who handled the preliminary investigation dismissed the cases of sedition, inciting sedition, cyberlibel, libel, estafa, and obstruction of justice for lack of probable cause.

In dismissing the sedition and inciting sedition charges, the DOJ said the essential element of public and tumultuous uprising were not present. 

“While the video series contains libelous imputations against President Duterte and his family which tend to create hatred or revenge against them, nonetheless no words were uttered which tended to incite the people to take up arms or rise against the government,” the DOJ said in a 57-page resolution.