DOJ: Trillanes conspired as ‘act of revenge’ against Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) — A Department of Justice prosecutor said Thursday that former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was charged with conspiracy to commit sedition for circulating libelous 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 drug trade as an act of revenge,” said Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas.

According to Torrevillas, Trillanes and the 10 other respondents have only been charged for conspiracy to commit sedition, and not inciting for sedition, since there was no overt acts to call for 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 has earlier called the new case "absurd," and noted that the Duterte administration is using the issue to "weaponize the law" against the opposition, critics and the media.

READ: Robredo, opposition members cleared, Trillanes charged with sedition

According to Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code, persons conspiring to commit the crime of sedition shall be punished with reclusion perpetua -- up to 40 years jail time -- or death. However, capital punishment has since been abolished 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 other respondents were supposedly responsible for circulating the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos of a man named “Bikoy” who later turned himself in as Peter Joemel Advincula.

Advincula was shown in a series of viral videos linking Duterte and his family to illegal drug trade. Not long after the publication and circulation of the said videos, he suddenly made a turnaround and pointed to the opposition as the people behind the video series.