DOJ launches preliminary investigation into VP Robredo’s sedition case

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019   •   1257

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched the preliminary investigation on the complaints of sedition filed against Vice President Leni Robredo and some members of the opposition.

Present in the investigation were respondents who belong to the free legal assistance group namely Atty. Erin Tañada; Atty. Chel.Diokno; Atty. Florin Hilbay; Atty. Philip Sawali and former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te.

Also present was primary respondent and witness in the case, Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy.

Robredo and 35 others were being linked to the so-called ‘Project Sodoma’ or a plot by opposition groups to oust President Rodrigo Duterte. Part of such plan was the release of the narco-video series ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist.’

Representing the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) was Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda which the opposition argued as questionable.

“Ang OSG (ay) tribune of the people ‘no. Hindi tuta ng Malacañang, (OSG is the tribune of the people not a puppet of Malacañang),” noted Atty. Rene Saguisag, the legal counsel of opposition senator Risa Hontiveros.

“It should not sandbag itself into becoming a defender of the attempt of the administration to eliminate all dissent and dissenters,” he added.

Other respondents also aired their disappointment over Miranda representing the police.

“Inamin naman nila na nakialam sila sa paggawa ng salaysay ni Advincula, (They admitted their part in writing Advincula’s statement),” Diokno, for his part, said.

“Iyon ay sa palagay ko isang lehitimong tanong. Sino ba talaga at bakit ba talaga ano ba talaga nasa likod nitong kasong ito? (The question now is: Who is behind this case, what is his reason and why?)” he added.

“Noong tayo po ay solicitor general, hindi ko naisip na makialam sa investigation ng criminal matters dahil iyong power ng OSG in criminal cases ay limited doon sa appeal na mawawala iyong independence ng opisina na iyon kung sa lebel pa lang ng imbestigasyon ay nakikialam na sila,” argued former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.

(When I was solicitor general, I did not think of meddling with the investigation of criminal matters because the power of the OSG when it comes to criminal cases is limited only to the appeal. The independence of the office will be tainted if it will intervene with the investigation.)

Miranda refused to make a statement to the media but she did mention a provision written in Executive Order 292 which allows the OSG to “act and represent the Republic and/or the people before any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action or proceeding which, in his opinion, affects the welfare of the people as the ends of justice may require.”

The respondents were supposed to submit their respective counter-affidavits but according to Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas they have received 15 motions already from the respondents.

Torrevillas heads the DOJ Panel.

Most of the respondents, Torrevilas said, have been requesting for a suspension of the trial until the latter gathers evidence from the CIDG.

The DOJ Panel gave the CIDG 10 days to produce the evidence and comply such as video footages of contained in a USB.

In case the motions are resolved, the respondents have until September 6 to submit their counter-affidavits.

Meanwhile, supporters of Robredo were determined despite the heavy rains.

“Hindi sedisyon ang sabihin ang katotohanan kaya narito po ang mamamayan na magpahayag para sabihin sa (Telling the truth is not an act of sedition, that’s why we’re here to tell the) Department of Justice: Drop the charges,” argued former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman. – MNP (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

DOJ confirms Facebook took down page behind malicious tagging

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice – Office of Cybercrime (DOJ- OOC) has confirmed that social media giant Facebook has already taken down the page that was linked to the malicious tagging spreading online.

In the past few days, netizens are getting notifications about getting tagged to what seems to be an adult video. Upon clicking the link, it will then ask the user to install an update to watch the video in full which will prompt to automatically tag random Facebook users to the same post.

In a statement on Wednesday (April 21), the DOJ-OOC said it has raised the issue to Facebook APAC Legal Law Enforcement Outreach and received a report that the page has been removed. The administrators of the said page have also been sanctioned.

“As of this morning, 11AM of 21, April 2021, the DOJ-OOC received confirmation from Facebook APAC Legal Law Enforcement Outreach that the page associated to the malicious tagging has been removed and its administrators were sanctioned,” according to the statement.

The DOJ-OOC also encouraged the public to immediately report similar incident for immediate action. AAC

DOJ reiterates law enforcers should not interfere with community pantries

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reiterated that law enforcement agents should not interfere with anyone doing good deeds which include setting up community pantries.

In a statement, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a law enforcer should also not question individuals involved in community pantries unless they are violating laws.

“Suffice it to say that a person voluntarily doing an act of kindness and compassion toward his neighbor should be left alone,” he said.

“It is not proper for law enforcement agents to interrogate him unless there is reason to believe that he is violating any law, ordinance, rule, or regulation for the good or welfare of the community,” he added.

However, Guevarra refused to comment if police authorities violated the privacy act in gathering information about the organizers of community pantries. He also clarified that organizers are not required to fill out forms.

“Organizers of community pantries have no legal duty or are under any compulsion to fill out any forms, as these are not considered business, much less illegal activities,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

DILG backs proposed community service as penalty for quarantine violators

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday expressed support for the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposal to impose community service instead of jail time as a penalty for those who violate quarantine protocols against COVID-19.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya issued the statement during the Laging Handa public briefing when asked about Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s suggestion.

Malaya, however, clarified that quarantine violators are not immediately arrested under the existing policy. He said violators are usually given a warning for the first offense and are asked to pay a fine for the second offense.

The DILG official also said that the local government units are the ones that set their own penalties for quarantine violations through local ordinances.

“Let me first say that our policy is not to go straight to arrests. In fact, most of the time, the first offense only yields a warning, and the second offense is usually a fine” Malaya said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“These penalties are within the scope of ordinances passed by cities and municipalities and signed by mayors. So, these are not controlled by the National Task Force of Inter-Agency Task Force,” he added. “Having said that, we support this initiative, and if our councilors are willing to amend their ordinances, that’s well and good. It might be better to have [violators] do community service instead.”

Guevara, in a Palace press briefing on Monday, said he has recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force not to arrest or detain those who continue to violate quarantine protocols, and instead impose community service as a punishment.

The DOJ chief said the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act penalizes “non-cooperation” of persons identified as having a notifiable disease and those who are supposed to report it.

He, however, said that the law was not specific when it came to actual violations.

“Yung statutes like Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases, meron doong provision on non-cooperation, but you know medyo hindi siya shoot na shoot eh, hindi sya talagang very exact to the actual violation,” he said.

“I also recommend that in the enforcement, the stricter enforcement of the ordinances, that LGUs consider the possibility of imposing na lamang the penalty of community service for those who will continue to violate our ordinances rather than imprison or rather than putting them in jail or fining them, eh kasi talaga ngang mahirap na ang buhay sa ECQ,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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