Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyers Lorenzo Tanada III, Chel Diokno and Theodore Te have asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to disallow the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) from participating in the sedition case against them and their co-respondents including members of the opposition.
The three lawyers sought this after Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda appeared as lead counsel of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) during the start of the preliminary investigation of the complaint held at the DOJ last August 9.
Former Quezon representative Tanada, human rights lawyer Diokno, and former Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Theodore Te have been named among the 36 respondents in the complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG before the DOJ concerning the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” video series.
“Suffice it to state that there is no legal precedent dealing on the OSG’s right to represent a complainant in a preliminary investigation. The reason is glaring: the OSG’s representation of the complaint in this case is unprecedented. The office’s unparalleled and unusual zeal and persistence in handling the case is itself suspicious,” read their joint motion filed before the panel of prosecutors conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint.
Citing the Administrative Code of 1987 and Presidential Decree 478 which created the OSG, the three lawyers pointed out that the OSG can only represent the government and its agencies before the Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals (CA).
“Indubitably, in criminal proceedings, the OSG may represent the government, its agencies, and instrumentalities only in the Supreme Court and in the Court of Appeals. It is not authorized to appear as counsel for the government, its agencies and instrumentalities in criminal proceedings before other court or tribunal including the Honorable Panel which conducts the preliminary investigation of this case,” the FLAG lawyers stated.
In its complaint, the PNP-CIDG accused the respondents of sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal, and obstruction of justice.
The case is in connection with the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos which has accused Duterte family members as being involved the narcotics trade.
Peter Joemel Advincula, who revealed himself to be the hooded Bikoy in the videos, claimed that members of the opposition were behind the videos meant to discredit and destabilize the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.