Peter Joemel Advincula
The Philippine National Police presented Peter Joemel Advincula, claiming to be "Bikoy" of the "Ang Totoong Narcolist" video series, in a news conference on May 23, 2019.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
CBCP, legal assistance group slam criminal raps filed vs Robredo, opposition figures
( - July 20, 2019 - 3:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and Free Legal Assistance Group on Saturday slammed the filing of sedition charges against opposition figures — which watchers have described as an attempt to stifle dissent under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Police alleged Vice President Leni Robredo, Catholic Church leaders and opposition politicians plotted to destabilize the Duterte government by implicating him in the narcotics trade.

“I am very saddened by this news and greatly disturbed by this development. I know these bishops quiet well,” said CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles. Four bishops and three priests were among those accused of cyber libel and sedition.

“I cannot bring myself to believe that these bishops were involved in seditious activities,” Valles added.

The case stems from a series of videos circulated online in which a masked man claims the Duterte family is linked to the illegal drug trade.

Prosecutors have opened a probe into the more than two dozen figures targeted, and they could face trial on charges that could lead to lengthy prison sentences.

The maximum penalty for sedition is six years in prison.

“The charges are not only baseless, they are meant to silence and persecute human rights lawyers, opposition leaders, and the Church, and to send a message to anyone who dares to criticize this administration,” FLAG said in a statement.

“FLAG calls upon the Secretary of Justice to immediately throw out the CIDG complaint,” they added.

Robredo's Liberal Party said the police recommendation was clear political harassment against the second-highest elected official of the country, and who is also among the most prominent opponents of Duterte's drug crackdown.

"The enemies of democracy are behind this because the VP is the sole remaining obstacle to their plan to pursue the killings in the fake war on drugs, sell the Philippines to China and rule the country forever," a party statement said. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral with AFP

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