Reminiscent of the hooded Bikoy who sued opposition members in 2020 of conspiracy to commit sedition, another hooded man, this time from the embattled Pharmally corporation, has figured in a new sedition complaint against opposition senator Risa Hontiveros.
Jaime Vegas, who described himself as an employee of Pharmally, assisted by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, filed on Wednesday, November 3, a conspiracy to commit sedition complaint against Hontiveros over Senate testimonies damaging to Pharmally and to the Duterte government.
Vegas claimed that the hooded man in Hontiveros’ Senate presentation, later identified as Veejay Almira, was just coerced to make his testimony that they tampered with medical-grade face shields to move its expiry dates.
This was the September 24 testimony that Pharmally official Krzle Mago confirmed initially. But Mago later retracted when she sought custody under the House of Representatives, which was friendlier to the Duterte government in the pandemic contracts investigations.
Vegas said Hontiveros and her Senate staff committed conspiracy to commit sedition “by portraying that this government is corrupt and to solicit support from the general public to rise against the Duterte Administration.”
“Laughable,” said Hontiveros in a press conference on Wednesday.
“Holding public officials accountable is not rising publicly and tumultuously against the government,” Hontiveros added.
What is sedition
Article 141 of the Revised Penal Code punishes conspiracy to commit sedition. Article 139 defines sedition as a crime “committed by persons who rise publicly and tumultuously in order to attain by force, intimidation, or by other means outside of legal methods, any of the following objects..”
One of the objectives listed is “to inflict any act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of any public officer or employee.”
“Public broadcasting of the malicious video of Veejay Almira in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing is a manifest act of hate or revenge against the persons of Secretary Francisco Doque (sic) or President Rodrigo Duterte and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, or any social class like the political party of PDP Laban,” said Vegas’ complaint.
Hontiveros said she has proof that it was Almira who voluntarily went to them with information against Pharmally, and that they were ready to submit these to the Ombudsman if asked.
Pharmally was a newly-created and undercapitalized company led by a Singaporean which bagged the biggest pandemic contracts, P10 billion so far. Senate investigations have unearthed evidence of lopsided deals, expired test kits, and as testified by Almira, tampered face shields.
“I do not need to resort to unlawful means to point out anomalies in Pharmally’s transactions. The Senate has already exposed many of these information. This is clearly a last ditch effort by Pharmally and its backers,” said Hontiveros.
– With a report from Rambo Talabong/Rappler.com