Tsinoy Beats and Bytes

Courage to seek the truth

First, we hear self-ascribed whistleblower Bikoy, Peter Joemel Advincula in real life, implicating President Rodrigo Duterte’s children and allies in the illegal drug trade. Next thing we know, he was singing a different tune and accusing the political opposition of plotting to oust the president. In between were more twists and turns in his tales.
What about government?
First, it sweepingly dismissed Bikoy’s original allegations against Duterte’s kith and kin as hogwash. Next thing we know, it was taking Bikoy’s accusations against the opposition seriously, so seriously it has filed sedition charges against its leaders and supporters. In between were a string of reasons it now considers this “flip-flopping witness” as credible.
Where lies the truth?
That’s what The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) says the government should ferret out and the public is entitled to know. On Friday it released a statement demanding that the government aggressively and objectively pursue the truth in Bikoy’s allegations.
“Only a thorough, open and straightforward inquiry into these allegations will determine the truth and clear the innocent,” says TOWNS, an association of more than 160 responsible, cause-oriented career women who have served the nation in their private and public capacities over the past 50 years. (Disclosure: I am a board member of TOWNS.)
Let’s retrace the Bikoy saga.
In early April, weeks ahead of the midterm elections, a series of videos titled “Ang Totoong Narco List (The True Narco List)” went viral. The videos show a hooded figure named Bikoy spilling the beans on Duterte’s son Paolo, daughter Veronica, son-in-law Manases Carpio and special presidential assistant and now senator Christopher “Bong” Go supposedly accepted payoffs from a bigtime drug syndicate.
On May 6, Advincula appeared at a press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines claiming he was Bikoy.
Malacañang and the police immediately dismissed his allegations as hogwash, declaring he had no credibility and was not worthy any attention. His past as an ex-convict was raked up. Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde branded him an “information peddler.” Government threatened to arrest him and jail him for his slander.
On May 22, in about two weeks, Bikoy was presented in yet another press conference, hosted no less by the PNP at its headquarters at Camp Crame. He backtracked and this time squarely blamed highly placed individuals from the opposition, academe and the Roman Catholic Church for allegedly manipulating him and using him in their plot to bring down the government.
On July 18, Bikoy’s befuddling, conflicting statements notwithstanding, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed sedition and cyberlibel charges against 36 people led by Vice President Leni Robredo and Otso Diretso candidates on the basis of an affidavit the “whistleblower” had executed.
In the days that followed, it would be learned that the Office of the Solicitor General headed by Jose Calida helped prepare the affidavit.
Bikoy’s revelations in his May 6 and May 22 conferences are poles apart. Yet, there was nary a semblance of attempt by government to investigate or verify what he said the first time. This leads one to wonder: How could the police now accept his May 22 and subsequent statements?
The PNP evidently chose to pursue Bikoy’s more recent statements because they were most convenient and favorable to the administration. The opposition views the charges as government’s brazen attempt to persecute and put fear in its leaders and neutralize them to stop them from examining the allegations behind Bikoy’s initial allegations against the first family.
Robredo’s spokesperson, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, said he believes the sedition complaint was “politically motivated,” citing renewed calls to impeach the vice president. He said it was Calida who had prepared Bikoy’s affidavit, an obvious ploy “to try to oust her (Robredo) from office in favor of defeated vice presidential candidate (Ferdinand) Bongbong Marcos (Jr.).” Calida was said to have been “lawyering” for Marcos from the beginning.
Like other sectors that have expressed concern over the bizarre turn of events, the TOWNS statement sought “an honest, sincere and above-board investigation of Bikoy’s original serious allegations to seek the truth.”
It urged “the PNP, the DOJ (Department of Justice), the workers in the bureaucracy and the Filipino people not to be distracted or sidetracked by this political manipulation of the justice system from demanding and seeking the truth.”
TOWNS reminded government and the public, “These are dangerous times we are living in. From without, we have been battling organized drugs, illegal gambling, kidnapping, human trafficking and other criminal syndicates. From within, we are battling insidious attempts to undermine the very foundations of society.”
Truth, justice and transparency. The Filipinos deserve no less.