PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde admitted on Wednesday, July 24, that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) merely consulted the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in the drafting of the affidavit of Peter Joemel Advincula, the man claiming to be Bikoy.
Albayalde maintained that it was not the OSG that crafted Advincula’s affidavit, which was used to support the filing of charges against those behind the "Ang Totoong Narco-list" videos before the Department of Justice.
“According to the director of the CIDG ‘yung legal department ng CIDG had a consultation only with the legal department of OSG. Hindi sila ang gumawa, hindi sila ang nakialam doon,” Albayalde said in a press conference in Camp Crame.
Albayalde said there is nothing wrong and irregular in seeking the assistance of the OSG which serves as the lawyer of all government agencies.
“It's but normal for us to seek legal advice and comments especially so from OSG. Kung yun nga sa mga private lawyers nanghihingi kami (ng advice) what more dito sa OSG being the counsel of all government agencies and instrumentalities dito sa ating gobyerno. It's but normal and nothing irregular there,” he said.
However, Albayalde said he is not yet aware of the extent of consultancy which took place between the legal division of CIDG and OSG.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, for his part, said the OSG's alleged involvement in the filing of cases against Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo and other people critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration was "procedurally correct."
"SolGen is the lawyer of the Republic of the Philippines and all his clients are all offices and agencies of the government. Now, it is mandated under the law to counsel, to give lawyering activities to any of the offices, when its office is consulted," Panelo said in a chance interview at the Palace.
"There was a complainant, correct? And he went to the PNP (Philippine National Police). And the PNP investigated the case. And it is also procedural for the PNP to submit the case either with the Department of Justice or the proper authority with respect to the complaint filed by a private complainant. So it's still regular, procedurally correct," he added.
On Thursday, July 18, the CIDG filed charges of sedition, cyberlibel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice against several opposition personalities whom Advincula tagged as behind the series of videos “Ang Totoong Narco-list.”
Advincula said the videos were released in a bid to unseat Duterte.
Among the respondents were Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo; former senator Antonio Trillanes IV and one of his staff Jonnel P. Sangalang; former police official Eduardo Acierto; Senators Ana Theresia Hontiveros Baraquel and Leila de Lima; opposition candidates in the last senatorial elections Gary C. Alejano, Florin Hilbay, Romulo Macalintal, Jose Manuel Diokno, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Paolo Benigno A. Aquino and Lorenzo Tañada III; and clergy members Fr. Robert Reyes, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Bro. Armin Luistro, Bishop Honesto F. Ongtico, Bishop Teodoro C Bacani Jr., Archbishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, and Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
Also included in the charges were lawyers Abdiel Dar Elijah Fajardo, Minerva Ambrosio, Egon Q. Cayosa and Theodore Te as well as Serafin Salvador and Philip Sawali.
The OSG has yet to comment on the matter although Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier maintained that Malacañang did not meddle in the said filing of charges against some members of the opposition.
Meanwhile, Advincula’s legal counsel Larry Gadon said the OSG was not present while the latter’s statement is being taken.
“I had no knowledge of any participation of OSG which was probably consulted by the CIDG after the statements were taken. It is perfectly normal for any government office to seek the advice or consult the OSG for correction of any legal matter in line with their work, there is nothing wrong nor sinister with that since the OSG is the lawyer of the government. All agencies consult the OSG,” he said in a statement.
“The acts of OSG in giving advise should not be translated right away into oppression of opposition otherwise the OSG will be stifled . This will result to paralysis of their function. The OSG in a larger sense serves as the legal department of the government to which any government agency may refer any matter that may involve legal issue,” Gadon added. (With Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)