By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) will be fair in conducting a preliminary investigation against Vice President Leni Robredo and her co-respondents over the criminal complaint they are facing over their alleged involvement in the production and distribution of the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” viral videos, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured Friday.
“The DOJ is not a weapon for oppression or persecution,” the Secretary told reporters.
“We shall go only by the evidence presented before us and we don’t care who gets indicted and who goes scot free” he stated.
In the meantime, Guevarra has yet to select the panel of prosecutors which will conduct the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) on Thursday (July 18).
The panel of prosecutors will determine during the preliminary as to who among the respondents should be charged in court.
“But once probable cause is determined and a criminal case is filed in court, the DOJ will exert the full force of the law to secure a conviction,” the DOJ chief said.
In its complaint, the PNP-CIDG accused the Robredo and 34 other respondents of “Sedition, Inciting Sedition, Cyber Libel, Libel, Estafa, Harboring a criminal, and Obstruction of Justice.”
The complaint concerns the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” which features Peter Joelmel Advincula alias Bikoy who accused a number of personalities including family members of President Rodrigo Duterte as being involved in the illegal drugs trade.
“As averred by Mr. Advincula, he was engaged by the respondents to spread lies against the President, his family and close associate, making them to appear as illegal trade protectors and how they earned staggering amounts of money,” read the PNP-CIDG complaint which also included Advincula as a respondent.
Aside from Robredo and Advincula, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint are incumbent Senators Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Leila De Lima as well as former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
The complaint also named as respondents most of the losing “Otso Diretso” senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party, namely, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, former Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Robredo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, and Samira Gutoc-Tomawis.
Lawyers included in the complaint were former Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Theodore Te, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Egon Cayosa, former IBP President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, Philip Sawali Minerva Ambrosio, Serafin Salvador and someone known only as Chito.
Catholic Church leaders were also respondents in the complaint including Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) vice president and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, former CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, former Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, and Fr. Alber Alejo.
Other respondents included former Police Sr. Supt. Eduardo Acierto, Jonnell Sangalang, Yolanda Villanueva, Bro. Armin Luistro, Boom Enriquez, Vincent Romano III, Danilo Songco, a certain Monique, Joel Saracho, and Carmelito Salvador.