Calida in OSG appearance at sedition probe: Respondents are accused of treason
Opposition personalities named as respondents in the police’s sedition rap asked the Department of Justice to disqualify the Office of the Solicitor General from appearing in the preliminary investigation of the complaint.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file
Calida in OSG appearance at sedition probe: Respondents are accused of treason
( - August 20, 2019 - 4:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida moved for the dismissal of motions seeking the disqualification of the Office of the Solicitor General in the preliminary probe into the police’s sedition complaint against opposition members.

The Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group tagged more than 30 people perceived to be critics of the government in a suit that accuses them of conspiring to oust President Rodrigo Duterte by releasing a series of anonymously posted videos alleging drug links.

But some of the respondents—Sen. Leila de Lima, Otso Diretso bets Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada and Gary Alejano and former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te—questioned the OSG’s authority to be involved in the preliminary investigation proceedings.

READ: Respondents: Why is OSG at preliminary probe on sedition raps?

Calida asked the state prosecutors to junk the respondents' omnibus motion for "lack of legal and factual basis."

Sedition is betrayal of country

Calida, in the prefatory statement included in the pleading, stressed that the complaint at hand accuses some government officials of committing sedition, “a treason in the time of peace.”

The solicitor general said the complaint involves the “betrayal of the Constitution and the People of the Philippines” of the respondents that include Vice President Leni Robredo and Sens. Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros.

Calida maintained the OSG is defending the Constitution, as tribune of the people, in the proceedings.

He said the “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos vilified Duterte and his family’s name. “This treasonous counter-literature meant to disparage and discredit the current Administration was viewed and shared more than a hundred thousand fold,” he added.

Urbano doctrine

The respondents, in their motion submitted to state prosecutors, cited the Urbano doctrine that stated: “It is the office of the city, provincial or state prosecutor, as the case may be, and not the [OSG] which attends to the investigation and the prosecution of criminal cases in the first instance.”

The OSG countered the respondents’ usage of the Urbano doctrine and pointed out that the Urbano v Chavez presents a different scenario.

“In the aforesaid case, the issue raised is ‘Can the [OSG] represent a public officer or employee in the preliminary investigation of a criminal action against him or in a civil action for damages against him,” the comment read.

READ: Respondents want OSG disqualified in PNP’s sedition complaint

Conflict of interest

Calida also said the OSG, in the sedition case, entered its appearance as a counsel of the complainant—the police—and not the respondents.

The respondents had raised that the Urbano doctrine laid down to address the conflict of interest which might happen when the case reaches the Court of Appeals.

They added: “[I]f the OSG lawyers for a complainant public officer during a preliminary investigation, it effectively likewise fetters itself to a position that would prevent it from credibly performing its role as the People’s Tribune, should a private respondent’s conviction be challenged on appeal, and should the OSG decide at the time that the public interest is better served by reversing the conviction.”

Calida rebutted this by saying that once an Information is filed before a court, meaning that the respondents have been charged, the party would have been changed as “People of the Philippines,” and would be brought to court by prosecutors.

“There is no dispute that the People of the Philippines shall already be represented by the OSG in criminal proceedings in the CA or in the SC,” the OSG added. — Kristine Joy Patag

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