08/30/2019, 14.57
PHILIPPINES
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Priest and nun accused of kidnapping

Both were indicted along with a former opposition senator and a lawyer. They are accused in connection with an affidavit dating back to 2017 made by a woman who claims to have been kidnapped and forced to accuse President Duterte.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Jesuit priest accused of sedition is now facing new charges, along with a lawyer, an important opposition politician and a nun.

Based on a 2017 affidavit dating, the police haerged Fr Albert Alejo (picture 1), lawyer Jude Sabio, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and a Canossian nun called Sister Ling from Makati City in connection with the abduction of Guillermina Arcillas, 43 (picture 2), from Davao del Norte.

Mr Arcillas filed a complaint against Trillanes, claiming that she had been forced to say that President Rodrigo Duterte was involved in drug trafficking and extrajudicial killings.

The former senator rejected all the charges, saying Arcillas provided information against Duterte to lawyer Sabio in 2016. He did admit that his staff met the woman to verify her claims but concluded that she was not a credible witness.

In a new sworn statement to the police, Arcillas reiterated her accusation against the group, alleging that she was held for 14 days in a convent in Metro Manila in December 2016 and prevented from leaving, until she signed a "ready-made" affidavit.

Trillanes and Fr Alejo are part of a group of 36 people accused of inciting sedition, cyber libel and obstruction of justice; others include Vice President Leni Robredo, four bishops, two priests and a friar.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) came to the defence of the priests and bishops involved in the case, stating that the accusations are "beyond belief".

“These are individuals whose love for country and dedication for the welfare of our people I cannot doubt,” said CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao.

In a statement sent to journalists this morning, Trillanes called the latest complaint a clear "case of harassment and persecution" against critics of the Duterte administration.

“Would you believe that a priest and a nun helped me kidnap her and that we detained her in a convent? Aside from that, she was supposedly kidnapped in 2016 but she's only filing a case now,” said the former senator.

For Trillanes, money is Arcillas’s motive. “My information is that she volunteered to testify against Duterte but her story has so many loopholes,” he explained. “[S]he was reportedly asking for money in exchange of her testimony so she wasn't admitted as a witness. Then when she wasn't given the money, she flip-flopped.”

The complaint for kidnapping is the latest in a series of accusations against Trillanes, a strong Duterte critic. In September 2018, the former senator was arrested on old charges of rebellion, after Duterte revoked an amnesty granted over coup attempts in 2003 and 2007 against former president Gloria Arroyo. Trillanes was released on bail.

In December 2018, a court in Davao City, where Duterte served as mayor between 2013 and 2016, issued four arrest warrants against Trillanes following complaints by the president's son and son-in-law.

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