VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Themes, missing details, inconsistencies in ‘Bikoy’ tales

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will resume on Sept. 6 the preliminary investigation on the multiple charges the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) filed against Vice President Leni Robredo and 37 others.

The PNP-CIDG complaint, filed July 18, argued that Robredo, eight members of the clergy, opposition figures, lawyers, and other members of civil society had conspired to oust President Rodrigo Duterte, and, in so doing, committed the crime of sedition, among others. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Four questions on sedition, answered)

Its primary evidence? The sworn testimony of Peter Joemel Advincula, the self-confessed “Bikoy” behind the video series “Ang Totoong (The Real) Narcolist” that linked Duterte, members of his family, and close associates to the illegal drug trade.

While the PNP-CIDG has deemed Advincula’s version of events credible enough to be used as evidence, previous records -- public statements and affidavits -- show he has flip-flopped and spewed false information many times over.

VERA Files Fact Check tracked and reviewed Advincula’s claims in six of his recorded pronouncements and found themes, missing information, and even more inconsistencies in his story.

‘Bikoy’ story shifted from drug syndicates to ouster plot

Advincula’s six statements advanced two main narratives:

    • a big-time drug syndicate involving high-profile politicians that was recycled to fit a different cast of characters; and
    • an elaborate plot to overthrow the president.

In his earlier statements -- Sotto document, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) affidavit, and IBP press briefing -- Advincula discussed only his supposed involvement in the “Quadrangle Group,” allegedly a drug syndicate based in Misibis Bay Resort in Bicol, led by businessman Elizaldy “Zaldy” Co, the resort owner.

The December 2016 Sotto document, a statement signed by Advincula but left unnotarized, recounted in detail how he supposedly entered the syndicate unknowingly in 2010 as a “technical controller,” manning and maintaining the headquarter’s closed-circuit television monitors.

While doing so, he claimed to have seen then newly elected President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, then Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, and then Justice Secretary (now senator) Leila de Lima, among others, meet with Co several times and receive large payouts from the syndicate’s operations.

At the time Advincula signed the document, De Lima, then already a senator, was being investigated by the DOJ for drug charges.

The 2019 IBP affidavit and press briefing, both dated May 6, also narrated Advincula’s supposed experience in the Quadrangle Group, but this time there was no mention of Aquino, Roxas, or De Lima. Instead, he stood by revelations he made in the “Narcolist” videos that presidential son and Davao 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go were allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade as “patrons” of the Quadrangle Group’s counterpart in Davao.

Less than 20 days later, Advincula’s drug tales morphed into an ouster plot when he recanted his claims in the Narcolist video series in a press briefing with PNP on May 23.

He now says he was ordered to spread such “lies” against Duterte by former Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and members of the opposition as part of “Project Sodoma,” an alleged plot to overthrow the president and install Robredo in the top post.

This was reiterated in his May 29 affidavit with the CIDG, and again in another affidavit on July 18, also with the CIDG, which was submitted to the DOJ in support of the sedition raps against Robredo and the others.

There was very little mention, if at all, of his involvement with the Quadrangle Group, or of Co and other personalities he previously named in the May 29 and July 18 sworn statements.

Parts of IBP affidavit ‘controversial’

VERA Files requested from the IBP a complete version of Advincula’s May 6 affidavit, as the one it obtained from multiple independent sources had six incomplete paragraphs, while an entire page and five more paragraphs, in different sections of the statement, were completely missing.

But in an Aug. 27 letter, the IBP said:

“[W]e cannot provide a copy of the said affidavit due to the reason that…[the] case folders handled and pending cases from the previous administration were not yet turned over to the current administration and the records of the cases are not yet updated including the document you are requesting.”

Source: IBP response letter to VERA Files’ “Bikoy” affidavit request, Aug. 27, 2019

VERA Files then requested the missing parts of the document from former IBP president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, who said he did not have a copy of the statement. Requests for legal assistance, like in Advincula’s case, he said, are handled by IBP’s National Council for Legal Aid (NCLA), which functions autonomously.

Fajardo said, however, that the document is “confidential.” He said the NCLA does not want to “breach confidentiality” with Advincula, who was then applying for legal assistance. Minerva Ambrosio was NCLA director at the time Advincula applied for legal aid.

In fact, the document was signed by a notary public, which should have automatically made it a public document.

‘Bikoy’ tales carried several inconsistencies

Looking at the six statements closely, both Advincula’s drug narrative and ouster plot claims are peppered with inconsistencies.

Even the details in his CIDG and DOJ affidavits -- the latter being the primary basis of the CIDG sedition case -- which essentially have the same content, did not always add up, as pointed out by an ABS-CBN news report.

We compiled some of Advincula’s most glaring flip-flops.

On the drug syndicate

On ‘Project Sodoma’


Sources

Department of Justice, PNP-CIDG FILES SEVERAL CASES BEFORE THE DOJ AGAINST PROMINENT PERSONALITIES OVER PROJECT SODOMA, July 18, 2019

Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Criminal complaint filed to the Department of Justice

ABS-CBN News, Man behind viral anti-Duterte videos surfaces, May 6, 2019

Philippine National Police official Facebook page, NOW: Media briefing on the surrender of Peter Joemel Advincula (part 1), May 23, 2019

Philippine National Police official Facebook page, NOW: Media briefing on the surrender of Peter Joemel Advincula (part 2), May 23, 2019

Affidavit of Peter Joemel Advincula, May 6, 2019

IBP response letter to VERA Files’ “Bikoy” affidavit request, Aug. 27, 2019

Manila Speak, LIVE: SEN. TITO SOTTO ON THE BIKOY ISSUE, May 8, 2019

Senate.gov.ph, PRIB: Transcript of Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Marichu Villanueva, May 8, 2019

Statement of Peter Joemel Advincula (distributed by Sotto), December 2016

Interaksyon, In new video, ‘Bikoy’ disowns signature in affidavit Sotto released, May 16, 2019

ABS-CBN News, ‘Bikoy’ denies tagging Aquino admin to drug trade in new video, May 12, 2019

Inquirer.net, ‘Bikoy’ denies Sotto’s claims in new video, May 13, 2019

Affidavit of Peter Joemel Advincula, May 29, 2019

Affidavit of Peter Joemel Advincula, July 18, 2019

ABS-CBN News, ‘Bikoy’ affidavits contain inconsistencies, July 30, 2019

Personal communication with Jesuit Residence Staff, August 19, 2019

Inquirer.net, Trillanes posts P200K bond to travel to Europe, US, December 10, 2018

@ancalerts, Makati RTC Br. 150 temporarily lifts hold departure order vs Sen. Antonio Trillanes and allows him to travel to Europe, November 29, 2018

GMA News Online,Trillanes posts bail for libel cases, December 10, 2018



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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