A Philippine court has acquitted two Catholic priests, along with a former legislator and several others, of charges related to conspiracy to commit sedition.
The verdict was delivered by a local in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila on September 6.
Jesuit Father Albert Alejo and Society of Divine Word Father Flavie Villanueva, along with others, were found not guilty due to insufficient evidence.
They had been vocal critics of former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, which took place between 2016 and 2022.
The charges against the priests were linked to their alleged involvement in the creation and distribution of a video implicating Duterte and his family in a drug cartel.
The court ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish their guilt in the conspiracy to commit sedition case.
Villanueva emphasized their acquittal as a reflection of the misuse of charges against dissenting voices during the Duterte administration.
Alejo called for the release of Senator Leila De Lima, another Duterte critic and human rights defender who remains incarcerated.
The case against the priests and their co-accused was initiated in February 2020, and they secured bail before the trial began in March of that year.