FLAG demands P5M damages in sedition countercharge vs CIDG

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) filed a perjury countercharge against the police official who filed the complaint of inciting to sedition against them and key members of the opposition.

Chel Diokno, Erin Tañada, and Ted Te, who are among the 36 respondents in the complaint, also sued for perjury Peter Joemel Advincula, alias Bikoy. 

Police Lieutenant Colonel Arnold Thomas Ibay, the officer-in-charge of the CIDG's Regional Field unit- National Capital Region, signed the complaint on behalf of the CIDG and now faces the countercharge.

"For these illegal acts of Ibay and Advincula, they should be made to pay each of us for actual and moral damages an amount not less than P5,000,000," said the complaint submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel on Friday, September 6.

An element of perjury in the Revised Penal Code is "deliberate assertion of falsehood."

FLAG accused Advincula of straight-out lying when he implicated them in the so-called Project Sodoma, and charged Ibay, too, for using Advincula's affidavit "as basis of a criminal complaint." (READ: Meet the lawyers fighting Bikoy's sedition complaint)

Meeting with Bikoy

Tañada and Diokno were accused of meeting with Advincula on March 4 inside Ateneo for an alleged meeting of Project Sodoma.

The meeting never happened, said Tañada and Diokno, who were both senatorial candidates at the time of Otso Diretso. The two, as well as other Otso Diretso candidates, were in Ateneo on March 4 for Rappler's senatorial forum.

Tañada and Diokno never met Advincula, according to their counter-affidavits. (READ: Justice Department rejects OSG bid to bring more sedition probe witnesses)

Te, on the other hand, admitted to meeting Advincula on May 4. Advincula said in his affidavit that he met Te on May 2.

"The only reason I met with him was in connection with my duties as a lawyer. Under our internal mechanisms (which are protected by privilege), I received a message that a person wanted to ask for our legal assistance and inquiring if I would be free to meet with the person on May 4, 2019 in the evening," Te said in his counter-affidavit.

Te said he met with Advincula but "did not ask many questions as it appeared manifest to me that the person was giving too many details that could not be verified immediately and which would impact directly on his credibility."

"In my assessment and based on my experience as a FLAG lawyer of 28 years, Mr Advincula was not credible and I had reservations about taking him on as a FLAG client," said Te.

Te's lawyer Rafael Aquino said a lawyer meeting with a person who wanted legal consult is not a crime.

"Sedition ba 'yun? Hindi. Libelous ba yun? Hindi. Estafa ba yun? Malinaw hindi. Kaya merong knowingly making untruthful statements kaya ito, na-perjury siya," said Aquino. 

(Is that sedition? No. Is that libel? No. Is that estafa? Clearly, no. That's why there's perjury because he knowingly made untruthful statements.)

Apart from inciting to sedition, the CIDG complaint also included cyber libel, estafa, harboring a criminal, and obstruction of justice. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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