Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sabio: Opposition plotted to topple Rody, install Leni

The opposition had plotted to topple President Duterte and install Vice President Leni Robredo in his place.

Lawyer Jude Sabio has confirmed this, bolstering the police’s inciting to sedition charges against opposition personalities over the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos of Peter Joemel Advincula alias “Bikoy,” which the Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to resolve this month. After recanting his mass murder complaint against Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC), he spilled the beans on the political agenda behind the Bikoy videos.

He recalled that former senator Antonio Trillanes IV tried to tap him as lawyer of Advincula in April last year despite his unpaid legal services for Edgar Matobato, the confessed hitman who linked Duterte to killings by the Davao death squad when he was still the city’s mayor. “They had the gall and temerity to recruit me as lawyer for alias Bikoy in order to achieve their political agenda, which is to undermine and topple President Duterte so that Vice President (Leni) Robredo would become president,” he bared at a news forum in Quezon City on Friday. Sabio said he refused to handle the case because Advincula did not even pass the opposition’s vetting process, which means they could not establish the veracity of his claims.

When Trillanes and the opposition pursued Advincula’s claims despite lack of proof, Sabio said that was when he realized that he was taking part in a plot against the President and began to question the statements of Matobato and Arturo Lascañas. “When I filed that communication, I relied on the testimony of Matobato and Lascañas who demonstrate that there was a system being conducted in Davao that was expanded later on when President Duterte became president but with what happened in the Bikoy scandal, I began to question. I began to raise serious doubts about the contents of that communication,” he recalled.

“Considering that I went to the ICC for justice, I do not want my communication to be used further by them for their political agenda,” Sabio stressed. Sabio said he realized that the President might be innocent of the charges.

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (Falsity in one, falsity in all). Based on the pattern, it is very likely also that there is serious doubt about the testimony of Matobato and Lascañas,” he said.

“In my view, the President is not guilty, in line with what happened in the Bikoy incident,” he stressed. Sabio has alleged that Trillanes and detained Sen. Leila de Lima were behind the allegations against the President.

Trillanes, De Lima and Robredo are among the respondents in the charges of inciting to sedition, cyber libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group over the Bikoy videos.

The opposition personalities have previously denied the allegations.

Sabio also claimed he was a victim of fraud with his “professional billing unpaid by them up to now.” The lawyer lamented that while the communication he filed before the ICC in April 2017 was a “product of his legal work as an independent lawyer,” it was no longer in the “interest of justice” because it was used by the opposition for their political agenda.

Sabio said he would fly to The Hague in the Netherlands with lawyer Larry Gadon to personally file his manifestation of withdrawal of communication to the ICC. He also denied insinuations that he was paid to withdraw the communication he filed with the ICC.

“I will deny categorically any insinuation that I received any amount for this withdrawal. To tell you honestly, I am not for sale,” he claimed.

Sabio also downplayed opinions that withdrawal of his communication will not have an effect on the preliminary examination being conducted by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who is set to release her findings this year. “I have a right to withdraw my communication,” he argued.

De Lima described Sabio’s decision as a betrayal of the victims and survivors of extrajudicial and summary killings in the country.

“I feel sorry for attorney Sabio. I can understand that he is going through personal issues that forced him to turn his back on the cause of the victims of mass atrocities. Whatever is the true reason for such an awful move, attorney Sabio has become very vulnerable to the machinations from the dark forces,” she said. According to De Lima, Sabio’s withdrawal of the 77-page communication was rather “too late a move” and would hardly have any significant dent on the progress of the ICC intervention on human rights abuses in the country.

“Attorney Sabio may have fallen, but the fight continues without him and in spite of his betrayal of the victims,” she stressed.

Based on news reports, at least 52 communications have been filed against Duterte before the ICC since March 2019, including those filed by Trillanes and former congressman Gary Alejano