VICE-PRESIDENT MARIA Leonor G. Robredo has asked government prosecutors to order the police to give her copies all the evidence in the sedition complaint against her and 35 other people.
In a motion filed by her lawyer Marlon J. Manuel, the opposition leader accused the police, which initiated the case, of violating her rights by withholding evidence.
“It is reckless to conceal evidence under the guise of later on presenting the same during trial on the merits, assuming such evidence even exists,” she said in her filing at the Department of Justice.
“It is flagrant violation of a basic right to proceed with a prosecution on the convenient excuse of later on presenting evidence during ‘trial on merits’ in the vain hope that some credible evidence might later turn up,” she added.
Ms. Robredo also asked the Justice department to defer the filing of her counter-affidavit pending receipt of the police’s so-called evidence.
Police last month filed a complaint of inciting to sedition, cyberlibel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice against Ms. Robredo and other people whom it accused of circulating a video linking President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his family to illegal drugs.
Also sued was Peter Joemel Advincula, the self-confessed drug dealer who was featured in the videos.
Mr. Advincula had sought legal assistance in filing charges against members of the drug syndicate he formerly belonged to. Later that month, he surrendered to police over estafa charges, and tagged the Liberal Party as behind the propaganda.
The Liberal Party has accused the government of political harassment and persecution, saying the complaint is based on lies.
In her motion, Ms. Robredo noted that the police complaint only included the sworn statement of Mr. Advincula, and that other statements would be presented later.
“The presentation of evidence can’t be done in installments,” Mr. Manuel told reporters yesterday.
Human Rights Watch earlier said authorities should drop the “preposterous complaint” against opposition politicians, religious leaders and human rights advocates. It said the case was a “transparent attempt to harass and silence critics of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s bloody drug war.”
“Threatening criminal charges against the vice-president, outspoken bishops and rights lawyers suggests that Duterte’s egregious human rights record is catching up with him,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
A conviction for incitement to sedition carries a maximum penalty of six years in jail.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said the case would be resolved with “utmost fairness.” The preliminary investigation has been set for Aug. 9.
Ms. Robredo’s camp earlier said the complaint was likely started to form a basis for her eventual impeachment.
Her spokesman Barry Gutierrez said the case had a political motivation and “impeachment is really the endgame here.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas