PNP mulls holding Alvarez liable for sedition

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
PNP mulls holding Alvarez liable for sedition
Our legal officers and other concerned units will study if those statements may be considered as seditious statements, but for now, we won’t get into that matter yet,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said in a phone interview with reporters.
PPD / Toto Lozano, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) is studying if Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez can be held liable for inciting to sedition after the lawmaker urged the military to withdraw its support for President Marcos.

“Our legal officers and other concerned units will study if those statements may be considered as seditious statements, but for now, we won’t get into that matter yet,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said in a phone interview with reporters.

In his remarks before constituents during a prayer rally in Tagum City last Sunday, Alvarez urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to withdraw their support for Marcos to force the Chief Executive to step down.

Fajardo appealed to sectors not to drag the PNP into their calls of withdrawal of support for Marcos as she stressed that the police organization remains loyal to the duly constituted authorities and the 1987 Constitution.

Fajardo said the PNP does not want to be caught in the middle of political statements, noting that elected officials should be respected.

“The PNP remains focused on its mandate,” she added.

‘Uncalled for’

Meanwhile, Marcos’ allies in the House of Representatives yesterday called on Alvarez – an ally and close friend of former president Rodrigo Duterte – to be more responsible and circumspect in his tirades against the current administration.

“The remarks of former speaker is uncalled for. That is tantamount to an act of sedition or rebellion. Now is not the time to be divisive when our country is trying to promote our country to be an investment haven to foreign investors,” Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel said, referring to Alvarez’s provocations to the AFP to withdraw support for their commander-in-chief.

“Instead, we should all unite and give our support to PBBM (Marcos’ initials) with his effort for economic reforms,” Pimentel added.

Pimentel served as deputy speaker under the two-year House leadership of Alvarez, who is also an ally of Vice President Sara Duterte, with whom he had a falling out in mid-2018.

Pimentel also served as chairman of the House committee on good governance and public accountability during the term of Alvarez, who was booted out as speaker in July 2018 and was replaced by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

For Camiguin Rep. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, the Department of Justice (DOJ) should investigate Alvarez for what he described as his “seditious statement” and file the necessary criminal charges against him in court.

“The response to the seditious statement should be the immediate filing of a criminal case so that the move to incite people, including the military, to rebel against the government will be nipped in the bud,” Romualdo said.

He added that the crime of sedition includes a person’s conduct, remarks or speech inciting the public to move against the state or duly constituted or elected authority.

“Clearly, what former speaker Alvarez remarked during a rally in Tagum City falls within the purview of sedition,” Romualdo said.

The lawmaker chided his Mindanao colleague for his insulting description of Marcos.

“What you say often reflects on you. It shows what kind of person you are,” Romualdo said of Alvarez.

Another senior administration legislator, Lanao del Norte 1st District Rep. Khalid Dimaporo, said it would be better if Alvarez would soften things up lest he face a complaint before the House committee on ethics.

“I would kindly urge the former speaker to be cautious with his words and clear on his intent. On face value, his anti-government statements are unbecoming of a member of the House and may warrant an ethics case against him,” Dimaporo said.

As to possible charges of sedition, he expressed belief that it is better left to the discretion of the DOJ, where criminal cases are assessed by state prosecutors for purposes of indictment before the courts.

“As for the DOJ, it should be decided on by the executive. But I don’t feel (Alvarez) should be given importance. Our country has other more pressing matters for the DOJ to attend to than the grumblings of a politician,” Dimaporo said. — Delon Porcalla, Diana Lhyd Suelto

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