Jude Josue Sabio .
I HAVE this feeling that people all over the country, if not the world, are curious why I am not involved in the so-called Bikoy affair. A handful of persons close to me asked me about it. Perhaps, they erroneously think that I am so politically intertwined with the LP-led opposition that my involvement in Bikoy is a foregone conclusion.
It is true that in October 2016, I immediately supported Edgar Matobato. This paper bears witness to my numerous writings that supported Matobato against President Duterte. This even brought me physically to the International Criminal Court in The Hague when I personally filed that first-ever communication for crime against humanity against the President.
However, that does not automatically mean that I will also get involved with Bikoy. Although I collaborated with senators Antonio Trillanes and Leila de Lima in relation to Matobato, it does not mean that I will also support Bikoy and the videos dubbed as “Project Sodoma.” I earlier collaborated with the good senators only because they represented Matobato in the Senate and in public, and not because they are my political overlords.
I did not personally know Matobato. For me to formally act then as his lawyer in his multiple cases in Davao then, the two senators took me in for that purpose. But I did agree only on a professional basis. It was not for politics. It just so happened that I believed then — and up to now — in the truth of Matobato’s Senate testimony, which is the main reason that I filed that communication with the ICC.
I personally went to the ICC not in pursuit of the politics of the LP, Magdalo or the LP-led opposition. To be sure, I am not part of the LP, neither am I a part of the Magdalo. In fact, I ran for the Senate as an independent, or outside of the LP-led opposition, even if this certainly meant my being declared as a nuisance.
My personal submission with the ICC is motivated by justice, nothing more, and nothing less. My direct collaboration with Trillanes in relation with the ICC case is based only on our shared conviction about the case — it is not because of politics.
Even up to now, I stand pat on that ICC case as an independent lawyer believing in the strong merit of the case based on the law and evidence, just like what I have been doing and would continually do as a lawyer in a criminal case in a domestic court. Luckily for me, in the midst of all the mudslinging against me, my humble but firm stand has vindicated me when ICC Prosecutor Bensouda formally announced a preliminary examination in February 2018, or just nine months from my personal submission with the ICC. The recent strong UNHRC resolution with 18 countries in favor of an independent UN probe has further vindicated my professional position.
While I acted as lawyer for Matobato and in the ICC, it does not automatically mean that I would have also acted as lawyer for Bikoy. Since I am not a part of the LP or Magdalo or the LP-led opposition, I would not have, for political reasons, just blindly acted as lawyer for or gotten involved in Bikoy or Project Sodoma. Not even Trillanes could have recruited me for Bikoy, even if we collaborated for Matobato and the ICC case.
Since politics is not my consideration for lawyering for Matobato or the ICC case, no amount of political consideration either from LP or Magdalo or anybody in the so-called LP-led opposition could, at that time, have prevailed upon me to act as lawyer for Bikoy. Unlike Matobato who really testified in the Senate and whose testimony is a matter of public record like that of Lascanas, Project Sodoma or Bikoy is just for political show in the form of cinematic videos. I cannot accept such videos which are only good for propaganda or cinema and will not stand as evidence in a court of law.
While I am a legal archenemy of President Duterte, I would not have allowed myself to be a lawyer for or to support Bikoy and the so-called “Totoong Narco List” videos. The twist of fate that actually spared me from Bikoy has left my professional stature largely unscathed in relation to the ICC. I have been spared from the usual vicious, violent attacks from Duterte supporters.
Had I been involved in Bikoy, I would have surely been portrayed by Duterte newpaper columnists like Rigoberto Tiglao and Ninez Cacho Olivares and radio commentators like Erwin Tulfo as nothing but a cheap purveyor of black propaganda. They would have risen in unison to destroy my professional credibility before the ICC and the public.
It was really a rare opportunity for these Duterte diehard supporters to have seized in order to assault and tear me into pieces, just as they have been doing all along. If Teddy Boy Locsin was able to earlier falsely claim in his radio interview that I was paid P100 million for my submission in the ICC, you can just imagine at what length they would take in order to pillory me in public.
Unfortunately, the people with whom I have collaborated closely in relation to Matobato, Lascanas and the ICC case, like Trillanes, Sen. de Lima and Fr. Albert Alejo, are suffering the political fallout from the Bikoy fiasco, which is the irreversible further loss of political credibility at a time when the political climate is not favourable to them. As for me, I will just carry on in my humble way in pursuing what I feel deep in my heart to be the higher interest of justice irrespective of politics.