A Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor said Thursday that former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was charged with conspiracy to commit sedition for spreading defamatory claims against President Rodrigo Duterte as “an act of revenge.”
“Those accused have been charged for circulating malicious libels and fabricating evidence to make it appear that Duterte and his family are involved in the drug trade as an act of revenge,” said DOJ Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas.
According to Torrevillas, Trillanes and the ten other respondents have only been charged for conspiracy to commit sedition, and not provoking for sedition, since there were no apparent acts to call for a public uprising.
“The conspiracy here was to inflict libelous imputations against the president,” she said. “We did not charge Mr. Trillanes of sedition, only conspiracy without necessarily going into the overt acts of committing the acts of sedition.”
Trillanes said earlier that the new case “absurd,” and noted that the current administration is using the issue to “weaponize the law” against the opposition, critics, and the media.
According to Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code, individuals conspiring to commit the crime of sedition shall be punished with reclusion perpetua, which means up to 40 years jail time, or death. However, capital punishment has since been removed in the country.
“There was indeed a grand conspiracy. Number one, the production of Bikoy videos. Second, the uploading. Third, the press conferences,” Torrevillas said.
Trillanes and the ten other respondents were supposedly responsible for circulating the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos of a man named “Bikoy” who later surrendered in as Peter Joemel Advincula.
Advincula was shown in a series of viral videos, saying that Duterte and his family have a connection to the illegal drug trade. Not long after the spread of the videos, he suddenly made turned himself in and pointed to the opposition as the people behind the video series.