Court junks sedition case vs Trillanes due to insufficient evidence

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — A Quezon City court dismissed the conspiracy to commit sedition case against former senator Antonio Trillanes and several others due to insufficient evidence.

In the resolution dated July 14, the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court granted the demurrers to evidence separately filed by Trillanes along with accused Peter Joemel "Bikoy" Advincula, Jonnel Sangalang, Yolanda Villanueva Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Albert Alejo, Vicente Romano Ill, and Ronnil Carlo Enriquez.

The case was related to the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos that circulated during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte and amid his war against illegal drugs.

“The Court finds that the prosecution failed to present competent or sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment or support a verdict of guilt against all accused,” read the resolution, which was made available to the media on Wednesday.

In the "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos released in 2019, Advincula implicated former president Rodrigo Duterte, some of his family members, and Senator Bong Go in the illegal drug trade.

Advincula then made a turnaround in his claims against the Dutertes and said the opposition, under the supervision of Trillanes, was behind the series of videos, prompting the Philippine National Police to file the sedition complaint before the Department of Justice and cite his testimonies.

The court said that throughout cross-examinations, all the witnesses "consistently admitted" that they had no firsthand knowledge of the events described in Advincula's statement.

“Ergo, in the absence of personal knowledge of the facts narrated in the Sinumpaang Salaysay, it necessarily follows that they also do not have any personal knowledge of the participation of each and every accused in the commission of the acts described in the Sinumpaang Salaysay,” the court explained.

It also noted Advincula, who was a vital witness of the prosecution, was not presented in court “to testify as to the veracity, truthfulness, and accuracy of his statements made” regarding his “sinumpaang salaysay,” which is the chief evidence of the prosecution.

"This is fatal to the case of the prosecution," the court said. "The essential witness with personal knowledge of the entire incident was demonstrably not presented in Court to substantiate the very basis of the instant criminal action filed."