A Philippine court has ordered the arrest of former Sen. Antonio Trillanes, one of the leading critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, for allegedly circulating videos that implicated members of the first family in the narcotics trade.
Also charged were two priests who criticized Duterte’s drug war – Flaviano Villanueva and Albert Alejo – as well as a former senior police officer who accused the president of associating with known Chinese drug traffickers, according to the arrest warrant.
“Those accused have been charged with circulating malicious libel and fabricating evidence to make it appear that Duterte and his family are involved in the drug trade as an act of revenge. The conspiracy here was to inflict libelous imputations against the president,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas said.
Torrevillas said Trillanes and a total of 10 other suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit sedition, adding there was no overt act to call for an uprising to oust Duterte. All but one of the others has posted the 10,000 pesos (U.S. $200) bail, while Trillanes, who is out of the country, said he would post it when he returns.
Trillanes, whose senate term ended in 2019, remains a Duterte critic and vowed to fight the charge.
“I will face this case just as I have faced all the other harassment cases Duterte’s minions have filed against me,” Trillanes said.
In 2018, authorities tried to arrest Trillanes on charges of rebellion for an uprising he had been pardoned for in the past. The senator holed himself up in the Senate until charges were dropped.
Duterte, whose six-year term ends in 2022, launched a deadly war on drugs shortly after taking office. Nearly 6,000 suspected drug dealers and pushers have been killed, according to government figures, but rights groups said the number could be as much as five times higher.
Another leading Duterte critic, Sen. Leila de Lima, has been in jail for allegedly profiting from the drug trade, a charge she has denied and has been described by other critics as preposterous.