Villegas denies Bikoy links, but admits meeting him once

MANILA, Philippines – Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas denied any viable link to Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy, but admitted that he met Bikoy once inside Ateneo in April as part of his "priestly ministry."

Advincula said in his affidavit sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ) that he met with Villegas, Jesuit priest Father Albert Alejo, and a supposed aide of former senator Antonio Trillanes IV named Jonell, on December 12, 2018, at 6 pm, at the Jesuit Residence inside Ateneo.

"I never met him on 12 December 2018 at Ateneo de Manila University," Villegas said in his counter-affidavit submitted to the DOJ which has started hearing the police's inciting to sedition complaint against him and 35 other individuals including Vice President Leni Robredo. (READ: Meet the lawyers fighting Bikoy's sedition complaint)

Villegas said he was in Orani, Bataan on December 12, 2018, and attached an affidavit of a priest of the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Rosary who was with him during a thanksgiving mass there on the said date.

"I admit, however, that I met Mr. Advincula only once, on 24 April 2019, at around 8:30 am after I had breakfast at the Jesuit Residence in Ateneo. After my breakfast, Mr. Advincula approached me, introduced himself, and asked if he could talk to me," Villegas said.

'Meeting'

Villegas said Advincula narrated to him "the hardships of his life."

"I was so moved that I gave him my personal rosary blessed by Pope Francis....this meeting lasted only for about 30 minutes and at no point did we discuss any plan to overthrow President Rodrigo Duterte, much less libel him or any person close to him," said Villegas.

The complaint accuses the respondents of participating in the so-called Project Sodoma, which is allegedly behind the Ang Totoong Narcolist videos that linked Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte and Senator Bong Go to the illegal drug trade.

Bikoy has retracted all of these, and has turned the tables on the opposition, accusing Trillanes of masterminding a supposed ouster plot. All respondents have denied the claims. (READ: Bikoy vs Bikoy: The biggest flip-flops of the government's star witness)

"I must underscore that my meeting with Mr Advincula, brief as it was, is part of my priestly ministry to give solace to those who are suffering," said Villegas.

"I do not harbor any ill will against any person, including President Duterte, the members of his family, or the people close to him. I have no malicious or illicit desire to bring down this or any administration, and I have never conspired with any person to carry out any nefarious plot to bring harm to this administration and any of the people who serve it," added the archbishop.

The DOJ's next hearing is on September 6. – 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.

image