Prosecutors junk motion questioning OSG authority in sedition preliminary probe
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/Michael Varcas, File photo
Prosecutors junk motion questioning OSG authority in sedition preliminary probe
Kristine Joy Patag ( - August 29, 2019 - 6:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — State prosecutors junked respondents’ challenge to the authority of the Office of Solicitor General to represent the police as respondents in the sedition complaint against key opposition figures.

The panel of state prosecutors ruled that it has no authority to “disqualify the OSG” from the preliminary investigation of the complaint.

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

They, however, stressed that the denial of the respondents’ motion is “without prejudice to respondents’ recourse, when they so desire, to bring such issue before the proper forum.”

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Paolo Santos and Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang signed the order.

Urbano doctrine

The camps of Sen. Leila de Lima, Otso Diretso bets Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada and Gary Alejano and former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te moved for the disqualification of the OSG during the ongoing preliminary investigation at the DOJ.

They raised that Supreme Court jurisprudence dictates that “the Office of the Solicitor General cannot appear in preliminary investigations.”

Citing Urbano v Chavez, FLAG said the SC stressed that the OSG can only participate in criminal cases once it reached the appellate courts.

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

“It is the office of the city, provincial or state prosecutor, as the case may be, and not the Office of the Solicitor General, which attends to the investigation and the prosecution of criminal cases in the first instance,” the SC said in the 1990 ruling.

The panel said that while it is aware of the Urbano doctrine, it noted that the case involved the OSG representing a respondent during the preliminary probe, which is why the panel “cannot equate in the alleged disqualification of the OSG to represent CIDG in this preliminary investigation.”

The panel also stressed that its principal task “is to determine the existence of probable cause that the crimes charged in the complaint were committed and that respondents are probably guilty thereof.”

“The panel deems it prudent not to make any determination as to the qualification or authority of the OSG to represent complainant CIDG as the issue remains particularly contentious,” the order read.

“In this view, the panel holds that it is not within its powers to disqualify OSG from representing CIDS in these proceedings,” it added.

READ: Calida in OSG appearance at sedition probe: Respondents are accused of treason

Robredo denies ever meeting Advincula

On Thursday afternoon, Vice President Leni Robredo went to the Department of Justice to file and subscribe to her counter-affidavit where she told the panel that she never met with Peter Joemel Advincula, the PNP’s respondent and witness in the complaint.

“To make it clear, I have never met Mr. Advincula. The first time I saw Mr. Advincula was in the news coverage of the press conference held at the office of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on May 6, 2019,” she said.

Advincula, who twice claimed to be “Bikoy” in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos, accused Robredo and several others associated with the opposition of scheming to oust President Duterte.

The vice president said she was not in the supposed meeting that happened at the Ateneo de Manila University last March 4, as she was attending events at the City of Bocaue and Municipality of Bustos, Bulacan Province on the said day.

“Aside from this bare and perjurious allegation of my purported presence in an alleged meeting on March 4, 2019 which again, is impossible, there is no other allegation of any act on my part in furtherance of the alleged crimes charged,” she added.

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