DOJ rejects OSG’s bid to submit more evidence; concludes preliminary probe

The Department of Justice concluded Friday the preliminary investigation of the sedition complaint filed against Vice President Leni Robredo and 37 others as it denied the motion of the Office of the Solicitor General to submit additional evidence.

Senior State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, who chairs the DOJ panel, asked Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda why they were still trying to submit new pieces of evidence despite saying their evidence were already complete during the first hearing last August 9.

“Do you remember the last hearing it was you who said…the complaint is already complete?” Torrevillas reminded Miranda.

She lectured Miranda: “Now you are saying that you will be submitting. So, if you will submit additional evidence, again respondents will be given additional response. Will that not cause delay, Attorney?”

The panel, according to DOJ panel member Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Paolo Santiago, need to comply with the procedure and resolve the complaint within 60 days.

Miranda said they wanted to submit documents from three new witnesses namely lawyer Jude Sabio, Davao entrepreneur Guillerma Lalic Barrido and Perfecto Tagalog.

Miranda asked the panel to issue a subpoena for Sabio, known for filing a complaint against Duterte in the International Criminal Court, so he can “shed light” to the “Project Sodoma” after he published an article in the Mindanao Gold Star Daily about former Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV. Project Sodoma was the alleged smear campaign supposedly launched by some members of the opposition, including Trillanes, to implicate President Rodrigo Duterte and his family to illegal drug trade.

Barrido and Tagalog, meanwhile, surfaced in August and accused Trillanes for urging them to speak up against Duterte. Trillanes denied their claims.

Miranda asked the panel to remind colleagues in the crowded room to observe “candor, fairness” and “courteousness” in accordance to lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility as a hushed boo is heard when she was reiterating her motion to submit additional evidence.

Meanwhile, the panel granted the motion of case respondents detained Sen. Leila De Lima, defeated senatorial candidate Chel Diokno, and Danilo Songco to lodge their counter-affidavits until next week.

Also, the counsel of Diokno and Erin Tañada told the panel they will be filing charges against PNP-CIDG’s OIC Arnold Thomas Ibay and Peter JoemelAdvincula for violating Articles 183 and 184 of the Revised Penal Code, which pertain to the wrong use of false testimony and perjury in solemn affirmation before a court.

Advincula’s sworn affidavit given to the Ibay -led PNP-CIDG is the basis for the sedition complaint being investigated.

The panel is expected to decide either to dismiss the complaint or file the sedition charge within 20 days.