"Clearly, the Department of Justice is wrong here."
The Department of Justice has cleared Vice President Leni Robredo, several bishops, politicians, and lawyer of all charges in relation to the Bikoy tapes that alleged the complicity of President Duterte and his son Paolo in the illegal drugs trade. It should be recalled that Peter Joemel Advincula alias “Bikoy” claimed that the aforementioned personalities and others were the masterminds of the production of those tapes which was intended to incite the overthrow of the Duterte government.
While clearing many respondents, the Department of Justice, however, charged former Senator Antonio Trillanes together with six others with conspiracy to commit sedition under Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code. Their arrest has been ordered but since the crime they are charged with is bailable, none of the accused will spend time in jail.
The State prosecutors claim they have “interlocking pieces of proof” that 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.” In the resolution the state prosecutors said: “Clearly, the law punishes mere conspiracy or the agreement itself to raise commotion and disturbances; violate or endangers the public peace of the State.” They made it clear though that the crime of sedition was not actually carried out.
Under the law the crime of sedition is committed by “persons who rise publicly and tumultuously” to attain “by force” any of the following five grounds: a) to prevent the enforcement of any law or the holding of any popular election; b) to prevent the government or any public officer from freely exercising its or one’s functions, or prevent the execution of any administrative order; c) to inflict any act of hate or revenge upon any public officer or employee, or his/her property; d) to commit, for any political or social end, any act of hate or revenge against private persons or any social class; or e) to despoil, for any political or social end, any person, municipality or province, or the national government of any part of, or all of its property.
On the other hand, conspiracy to commit sedition is committed when two or more persons come to an agreement to commit sedition and decide to commit it as defined under Article 141 in relation to Article 139 (sedition) of the RPC.
Clearly, the Department of Justice is wrong here. There can be no conspiracy to commit sedition when there is no sedition in the first place.
The videos, purporting to accuse Duterte’s family members and allies of running a drug syndicate, is far from being a public uprising to create tumult, attained by force to achieve certain objectives. Tumults and disturbance as defined in Article 153 of RPC is committed when a person/s cause serious disturbance in a public place or establishment. Neither was the act of uploading the videos attained by force.
Further, one cannot derive therefrom that the videos were uploaded to achieve the objectives specified in Article 141 of RPC. The intent, if there is one, is to accuse Duterte and allies of running a drug syndicate, an allegation so far removed from any specified grounds in the cited article such as preventing the president from enforcing a law, freely exercising his functions, or inflicting any act of hate or revenge upon the president.
To reiterate, there is absence of sedition when there is no overt act/s that can be described as public uprising causing tumult undertaken by force to achieve certain objective/s. While the crime of conspiracy to commit sedition is independent of the crime of sedition, the former presupposes the latter. You cannot prove the
conspiracy to commit a crime unless that crime is actually committed.
On a personal note, I know very well some of the personalities charged with inciting to sedition.
I have had the occasion of engaging with Senator Trillanes many times. He is a courageous politician unafraid of what charges or attacks will be brought against him by this administration.
I do not know Joel Saracho and Boom Enriquez very well but everyone who knows them speaks highly of them.
I do know Yoly Ong and Vicente Romano quite well and for sure can say they are patriots of the highest order, wanting only good for this country.
I have always admired Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD for his unrelenting and passionate commitment to the poor and his advocacy for social justice. Charging him with inciting to sedition is laughable.
Finally, I claim Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ to be a close friend. I have known Paring Bert, as we call him, for nearly 40 years. I will always stand by this great poet, for sure a future national artist, a deep thinker of many issues this country and our world faces, a wonderful teacher and mentor, and a holy and good Jesuit and priest. In any war, I would want to be in the same foxhole as Paring Bert.
Paring Bert, Fr. Flavie, and their companions do not incite people to sedition, anger, and hate. They incite people to love the poor and this country. I stand by them.
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