MANILA, Philippines, February 19 ------ Fresh from an overseas trip, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV posted bail for charges of conspiracy to commit sedition filed against him by government prosecutors over the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos that linked President Duterte, his family and aides to the illegal drug trade. Trillanes went to the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 138 to post the P10,000 bail for his temporary liberty after he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday morning.
The court issued the arrest warrant for Trillanes and 10 other individuals over the so-called Bikoy videos, while he was on speaking engagements in the United States and Europe. Aside from the senator, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also filed charges of conspiracy to commit sedition against Peter Joemel Advincula, alias Bikoy, the narrator in the video who posted bail on Monday. Also charged were publicist Boom Enriquez, actor Joel Saracho, Yolanda Ong, Vicente Romano III, Fr. Albert Alejo, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Jonnel Sanggalang and cop-turned-whistleblower Eduardo Acierto.
The DOJ said it found legal basis against the group that had indeed crafted a plan to overthrow the Duterte administration by using the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos to smear the image of the President. “This new case is a proof of the continuing political persecution of the Duterte administration against critics and the political opposition,” Trillanes told reporters, noting how this fresh case is the 19th against him so far since Duterte became President. Two separate inciting to sedition charges against Trillanes are lodged before a Pasay City court, both in relation to remarks and speeches he made against Duterte when he was still a senator.
Sedition and inciting to sedition are offenses graver than conspiracy to commit sedition, where prison terms are shorter. The former senator also faces the revival of his rebellion case over the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, a libel case in Davao City filed by Rep. Paolo Duterte and Mans Carpio and a kidnapping complaint filed by police for supposedly keeping a woman in a convent and coercing her to link Duterte to the drug trade, among others. “As you can see, these 19 cases are empty. I never plundered nor killed, that’s why the cases being filed against me are mere political cases, for the sake of harassing me,” Trillanes said in Filipino.
While he noticed that his cases have piled up, Trillanes said he never wanted such to happen. “I never sought for these cases, it’s not a positive thing for me. While this is not new, I have been in prison for seven and a half years… this is the path I chose to take,” Trillanes said. “I have accepted that this would happen once you stand up against a dictator like Duterte,” he added. Trillanes added that while all critics and members of the political opposition have two more years to endure before Duterte steps down as President, it will have all been worth it once it is his turn to face charges.
“Once these people step down, mark my words – they will make a run for it. They are not used to fair fights. Duterte and (Senator) Bong Go, they are bullies now, but when Duterte steps down, he wouldn’t be able to face a court like I do,” Trillanes said. Still a thorn in Duterte’s side, Trillanes’ two consecutive terms as senator ended last year and he has since become a university professor. Malacañang described as “nonsense” Trillanes’ claim that the filing of case against him is a form of harassment. ?“We will not waste our time responding to nonsense. That’s his problem,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing yesterday. ?“We don’t interfere with cases filed before the courts,” he added.
According to immigration officers, Trillanes was met by his family and his lawyer at the airport when the former senator arrived at around 7 a.m. on board Qatar Airways from the US with a stop over in Doha, Qatar. Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Dana Sandoval said there was no order to apprehend Trillanes upon his arrival. Sandoval said that the BI only executes an arrest if they were given a copy of warrant of arrest against a certain individual and if his name is formally included in their system for persons with warrants of arrest.
“Upon verification, no warrant was received by our office (as of yesterday),” Sandoval said.