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Philippine Jesuit priest, Canossian nun face kidnap charges

Pair accused of helping anti-Duterte plotters force woman to sign statement linking president with drug trade

 Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: August 30, 2019 06:53 AM GMT
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Philippine Jesuit priest, Canossian nun face kidnap charges

Jesuit priest Albert Alejo attends a "solidarity Mass" for Philippine church leaders linked to an alleged plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo by Jire Carreon) 

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Philippine authorities have laid kidnapping charges against a Jesuit priest, a Canossian nun, and two other people for allegedly abducting a woman who was later “coerced into attempting to destroy the reputation" of the president.

The case was filed with the Department of Justice by police on Aug. 15, but was only revealed to the media by the police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on Aug. 30.

Jesuit priest Albert Alejo is accused of taking a certain Davao resident called Guillermina Lalic Barrido to a Canossian convent in Manila and forcing her to sign an "affidavit to destroy the reputation" of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The crime allegedly occurred at the Canossian Sisters' convent in Quezon City on Dec. 6, 2016. In her complaint to the police, Barrido said she was held at the convent until Dec. 21, 2016.

Repeated attempts to contact Father Alejo for comment were not answered.

Also charged were former senator, Antonio Trillanes, lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, and a Sister Ling of the Canossian congregation.

In April 2017, Barrido held a press conference to claim she had been "coached" and bribed by Father Alejo, Trillanes, and Sabio to say the president was involved in the illegal drug trade.

Authorities claimed Barrido volunteered to submit her affidavit as part of the "inciting to sedition" charges earlier filed by police against several political opposition and church leaders.

The police alleged that it has become "the modus operandi" of the accused in getting people and seeing they surface on social media "to discredit a legitimate government."

"It is clear … [the accused] ferociously, maliciously, and intentionally put the complainant under detention for 14 days in order to force her to do something against her will," the police said in its complaint.

Trillanes has denied the allegation, saying it was Barrido who volunteered information against Duterte in 2016.

The former senator admitted that his staff met the woman to hear what she had to say, but they decided she was not credible.

In a statement sent to the media on Aug. 30, Trillanes called the complaint a clear "harassment case and persecution" of Duterte critics.

"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.

Philippine authorities earlier filed charges of inciting sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice against four Catholic bishops, three priests, including Father Alejo, a religious brother, the country's vice president and 35 members of the opposition.

The charges stem from the release of a video that went viral on several social media platforms early this year that linked Duterte and his family to the illegal drug trade.

Authorities say the video, like the kidnap claim, is part of an elaborate plot to get rid of Duterte.

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