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Senate cancels investigation on Bikoy ‘nonsense’

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By Charmaine A. Tadalan
and Arjay L. Balinbin Reporters

THE Senate on Wednesday canceled a planned hearing on the controversy over the netizen “Bikoy” which the head of a Senate panel described as “nonsense.”

This followed Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III’s remarks on Wednesday that Peter Joemel A. Advincula, who claimed to be the “Bikoy” in a series of anti-Duterte videos was the same person who contacted the his office in 2016, bearing a similar narco-list.

Mr. Sotto presented to the media a copy of Mr. Advincula’s affidavit in December that year, in which he accused businessman Elizalde Co, former president Benigno S.C. Aquino III, and former senator and interior secretary Manuel A. Roxas II as “patrons,” or those deemed to be on the top of a “Quadrangle Syndicate” involved in illegal drugs.

Mr. Advincula now identifies as patrons Presidential son Paolo Z. Duterte, Veronica Salvador who is said to represent President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s common-law wife Cielito S. Avanceña and daughter Veronica, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence T. Go, and the older Mr. Duterte’s son-in-law, Manases R. Carpio.

Senator Sotto added that Mr. Advincula had also provided him in 2016 a list of bank accounts where drug money was allegedly deposited, which Mr. Sotto, as Majority Leader then, vetted with the bank concerned.

“Isang account lang ang binigay ko(at) ang sagot lang (nila) noon, ni hindi ganyan ang numbering at lettering ng bank account nila, kaya imposible daw ‘yun,” the Senate leader said. (I just gave one account, and I was informed that even the numbering and lettering in the bank account was different from theirs, so it’s impossible).

“The problem with asking Bikoy who are the people behind him is if we will believe him,” Mr. Lacson said in a separate post.

Top Palace officials on Wednesday presented at least four more matrices implicating the Magdalo group and Liberal Party-allied personalities and organizations in an alleged plot to “discredit” Mr. Duterte’s administration and “boost” the candidacy of the opposition Otso Diretso senatorial bets.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo was joined by Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar in presenting the said diagrams to the Palace media on Wednesday, two days after Mr. Advincula, identifying himself as the “Bikoy” in the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” (The Real Narcolist) videos, surfaced at the office of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the country’s mandatory bar organization.

“The Office of the President, the President himself has received information, intelligence information that has been validated and appears to show that there is a deliberate attempt to discredit this administration, as well as to boost the candidacies of the opposition’s senatorial candidates and it appears that there are certain groups (that) are working together to achieve this goal,” Mr. Panelo said in his opening statement. — with reports by Vince Angelo C. Ferreras and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

He added: “This group appears to be the Liberal Party — some personalities identified as advocates or very active in social media dishing out anti-Duterte statements and sentiments, and validated to be allied with the Liberal Party; also working together with groups indicated in the matrix presented to you the other week. That’s it.”

He further said that “the Liberal Party (LP), the Magdalo and the other the groups indicated in the matrix are working hand-in-hand.”

“Why do we say this? The intelligence information shows that some of them, if not all of them, are using the same office — a four square meter office. What do you call this? Linear-something, Makati. And personalities like Bong Banal, Kokoy Dayao and Rodel Jayme — they are all known to be advocates of the Liberal Party. And then, even their e-mail addresses appear to be — that their e-mail [addresses] are the ones sharing this video of Bikoy.”

In a statement, Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, LP president and Otso Diretso campaign manager, said: “This is the nth time that the Administration, when confronted with controversy, falsely accuses the LP of being involved in ouster plots. Gawa-gawa lang ‘yan. Ang hindi gawa-gawa na dapat nilang ipaliwanag ay bakit walang nahuhuli na mga drug lord o pinaparushana na opisyal ng Customs sa paulit-ulit na pagpuslit ng toneladang shabu sa BoC. ‘Yan ang dapat nilang aksyunan.” (That’s fiction. What is not and which they should explain is why no drug lord has been caught or Customs official after all the shabu passing through the [Bureau of Customs]. That is what they should act on).

For its part, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Mr. Advincula has been selling false information about drug links.

“Before he gives information, ilang beses na siyang nakahingi ng medyo large amount of money (he would often ask for quite a large amount of money) and it turned out lahat ng sinabi niya (that his claims) are all false,” PNP chief General Oscar D. Albayalde told reporters at Camp Crame.

Mr. Albayalde said Mr. Advincula would offer information in exchange for P40,000 to P70,000. “Based on our monitoring and profiling…way back 2016, nung nandun pa siya sa Bilibid (when he was still in Bilibid prison), he made it believe through one inmate also na siya ay involved sa isang sindikato at meron siyang alam na malaking laboratory sa Bicol (that he is involved in a syndicate and he knows a big laboratory in Bicol),” said the PNP chief, adding that the police would later that the laboratory referred to was actually a resort.

The IBP, for its part, has declined request by Mr. Advincula for legal assistance.

In a statement, IBP president Abdiel Dan Elijah S. Fajardo said the decision was made following the National Center for Legal Aid’s (NCLA) evaluation of Mr. Advincula’s application.

“Mr. Advincula came to the IBP NCLA to request free legal assistance and representation in the filing of charges against certain individuals, including candidates for elective positions, because of their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. His application was duly processed just like any other request received by the NCLA,” Mr. Fajardo said.

“In the pursuit of its mandate to provide access to justice to the poor and the marginalized, the IBP cannot be seen to be siding with or going against any candidate or political party,” he added.

Mr. Advincula went to the IBP main office last Monday to seek legal assistance in filing charges against members of Mr. Duterte’s family and his associates in connection with illegal drugs.

The National Bureau of Investigation on April 30 arrested a sharer of his videos, Rodel H. Jayme, and on Tuesday charged him in a Parañaque City court with inciting to sedition. — with reports by Vince Angelo C. Ferreras and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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