Diokno, Tañada move for removal of OSG as CIDG counsel in preliminary probe of sedition raps

(Eagle News)–Lawyers Chel Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada III have asked the Department of Justice panel conducting a preliminary probe into the sedition charges filed against them and several others to stop the  Office of the Solicitor General from representing the Philippine National Police, the complainant, and to sanction the OSG.

In filing the omnibus  motion that also sought to annul all previous actions of the OSG, Diokno and Tañada said the OSG misstated University of the Philippines College of Law Dean Pacifico Agabin’s opinion “in an attempt to justify its  appearance under Item 11 of the Administrative Code of 1987.”

According to Diokno and Tañada, Agabin did not give an opinion on the appearance of the OSG as representative of the complainant, as Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda said, and was only giving a positive opinion on the same reviewing the affidavit of Peter Joemel Advincula, one of the respondents.

The PNP used Advincula’s affidavit as basis for the charges filed against Diokno and the others.

“It is then irresponsible for the OSG to mislead the panel by citing incompletely and out of context an interview given by Dean Agabin on another matter, assistance in the preparation of an affidavit, as justification for its appearance in these proceedings,” they said.

The lawyers added the Supreme Court, in Urbano vs Chavez, ruled that the OSG cannot appear in preliminary investigations.

According to Diokno and Tañada, this was to avoid any conflict of interest that may arise should the case reach the appellate court and the OSG, as the appellate counsel of the People of the Philippines,  is required to take a stand against the accused.

“By parity of principle, if the OSG lawyers for a complainant public officer during a preliminary investigation, it effectively likewise fetters itself to a position that would prevent it from credibly performing its  role as the People’s Tribune, should a private respondent’s conviction be challenged on appeal, and should the OSG decide at the time that the public interest is better served by reversing the conviction,” they said.

Diokno and Tañada added that while the OSG “has a two-tiered role as the lawyer of the government and as the People’s Tribune, it cannot act as both in the same case.”

“Thus, the task now falls to this panel to remove the OSG from these proceedings for fear that its continued appearance may taint fatally the due process that is guaranteed to respondents as a matter of right,” they said.

The sedition charges against Diokno, Tañada and several others including Vice President Leni Robredo stem from the Ang Totoong Narcolist videos that accused President Rodrigo Duterte’s family of being engaged in the illegal drug trade.

Advincula had claimed he was the yellow-hooded character in the videos who was forced by Robredo’s group to peddle the lies against Duterte’s family under Oplan Sodoma.

Advincula has also been included in the charge sheet, but has applied to be discharged as a state witness in the case. With a report from Moira Encina