QUEZON CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the treason and inciting to sedition cases filed against Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, peace negotiators led by Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal, and members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in connection with the peace agreement signed by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In a resolution approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on May 17, 2016, OMB Investigator Fatima Kristine J. Franco affirmed the case referral resolution of the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office on October 22, 2015 recommending the dismissal of the treason and sedition cases filed by former Manila Mayor Joselito Atienza, ABAKADA Partylist Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz and two other persons because they failed to prove the accusations.
Atienza and his co-complainants alleged in their complaint filed with the Manila City Prosecutors’ Office that Secretary Deles and the members of the government negotiating panel, including the members of the MILF negotiating panel, and several other government officials, including Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen who was the first chair of the GPH peace panel, and the commissioners of the BTC which drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), committed treason and the crime of inciting to sedition for pushing for and in getting the CAB signed by the government and in pushing for the passage of the BBL, which would implement the CAB.
Deles welcomed the dismissal of the cases as an affirmation of the thorough legal processes that attended the negotiation between the government and the MILF and the conclusion of an agreement to end of decades of conflict in the Bangsamoro.
“On behalf of my colleagues in government who persevered to secure this peace agreement in the Bangsamoro, we thank the Ombudsman for upholding justice in these cases filed against us. This is a fitting endorsement so that efforts to secure peace in the Bangsamoro could continue in the next Administration,” Deles said.
She noted that the proposed BBL “is clearly a document inciting peace, justice, order, unity, and goodwill among all peoples.”
“Contrary to the baseless accusations levelled against us, the CAB and the BBL sought to promote peace and progress in the Bangsamoro and the entire country,” Deles said.
For her part, Ferrer welcomed the dismissal of the charges, saying that the complaint was evidently a nuisance case that wasted the time and money of government institutions and unduly harassed the peace negotiators and the BTC commissioners.
In dismissing the cases, the Ombudsman upheld the findings of the Manila City Prosecutors’ Office that the charges filed by Atienza lacked merit and deserved to be dismissed. The MCPO, however, still referred the case to the Ombudsman because the Rules of Court gave the Ombudsman jurisdiction over cases filed against government officials with the rank of Deles and the others. In referring the case to the Ombudsman, the Manila City Prosecutors’ Office recommended the dismissal of the charges.
Citing the resolution of the MCPO, the Ombudsman said its own investigation proved that there was no basis for the charges.
“The mere act of proposing a draft of the BBL, which was introduced as a bill - but failed to pass the deliberation n before the Congress of the Philippines, is not within the ambit of the mentioned acts,” the Ombudsman stated.
“Complainants failed to present evidence showing that an act of sedition exists. Since there is no sedition, it follows that respondents could not have taken part in such activity. No proof was likewise presented showing that respondents had uttered, written, or held any program, which instigated the public to rise against the government,” the Ombudsman noted.
“They (Atienza, et al) failed to show that the proposed BBL contains words or statements which tend to overthrow or undermine the security of the government or to weaken the confidence of the people in the government,” the resolution read.
“This Office likewise upholds the dismissal of the charge of treason. The act of respondents in drafting and proposing the BBL does not amount to ‘levying war’ against the Republic of the Philippines, or adhering to her enemies; at any rate, treason is a war crime and cannot be committed in time of peace, as in the present case,” the Ombudsman concluded. ###