Department of Justice

DOJ orders probe into Alvarez’s call for AFP to abandon Marcos

Jairo Bolledo

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DOJ orders probe into Alvarez’s call for AFP to abandon Marcos

LAWMAKER. Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez in 2023.

House press and public affairs bureau

DOJ chief Crispin Remulla says they will determine if the former house speaker's remarks 'has risen to the level of sedition, inciting to sedition, or even rebellion'

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla has ordered an investigation into Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez’s call for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to abandon President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“I have ordered an investigation on the statements of Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez to determine whether it has risen to the level of sedition, inciting to sedition, or even rebellion,” Remulla said in a statement on Tuesday, April 16.

“As a former lawmaker myself, I would like to remind Congressman Alvarez to act in accordance to the highest standards of ethics, morality and nationalism, and avoid remarks unbecoming of a member of the House of Representatives,” the justice secretary added.

On Sunday night, April 14, Alvarez said that Marcos’ position in the West Philippine Sea “is making us to go to war with the world’s superpower, China. And that war will kill us all, Filipinos, especially our soldiers.” Several experts have said that asserting the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea will not lead to a war with China.

“Our Constitution says the AFP shall protect the people and the state, not the president! If we allow the war to explode in the West Philippine Sea, there will be countless dead bodies and unimaginable destruction. Before that happens…I call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to please withdraw your support to (sic) the chief executive…Bababa sa p’westo ‘yan (he’ll step down),” Alvarez said on Sunday.

As the sitting president, Marcos is the armed forces’ commander-in-chief.

The military was quick to affirm its loyalty to Marcos. In a statement, AFP chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. said the military’s mandate is clear, which is to protect the constitution and follow duly constituted authorities. Brawner, Marcos’ third military chief, added that they “will follow the chain of command.”

Surprisingly, some of Alvarez’s colleagues from the lower chamber had negative reactions toward the former house speaker’s remarks. Camiguin Representative Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said the immediate response to Alvarez’s call should be the filing of a criminal complaint. Meanwhile, Lanao del Norte Representative Khalid Dimaporo said the House committee on ethics could launch a probe into Alvarez.

Sedition now and then

Under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), sedition is 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.” Meanwhile, inciting to sedition is when a person incite others to commit any acts that constitute sedition through speeches, proclamation, etc.

Lastly, rebellion is defined under RPC “is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws…”

Under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte, one of Alvarez’s closest allies, sedition was used to crackdown on government critics.

One of Duterte’s fiercest critics, former senator Antonio Trillanes, faced multiple inciting to sedition and sedition charges. The first inciting to sedition charge was filed after Trillanes mentioned in a privilege speech Duterte’s alleged unexplained wealth. The second was filed over Trillanes’ statements in relation to his amnesty battle against Duterte.

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Looking at ‘inciting to sedition’ in the time of Duterte

Looking at ‘inciting to sedition’ in the time of Duterte

Amid the Bikoy video controversy, where allegations were made about Duterte’s involvement in the illegal drug trade, the PNP also filed a sedition complaint against some members of the opposition then, including Trillanes. A Quezon City court junked the case in September last year.

But even ordinary citizens faced sedition charges during the previous administration.

Rodel Jayme, creator of the website to allegedly spread Bikoy’s videos, was charged for inciting sedition. In 2020, a teacher and her son were also nabbed without warrants over an allegedly “provoking” Facebook post. The mother and son faced charges of inciting to sedition and disobedience to authority. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.