The Justice department has declared as invalid the warrantless arrest of a teacher over a tweet offering a P50-million reward to anyone who would kill President Rodrigo Duterte but will proceed with his indictment for sedition.
In an inquest resolution, Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette Dacpano invalidated the warrantless arrest of Ronnel Mas by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Mas was arrested in Zambales and brought to Manila for an inquest. He is now in NBI custody.
“It is undeniable that the arrest of Ronnel Mas made by the NBI-Dagupan operatives does not fall within the ambit of warrantless arrest contemplated by the law,” Dacpano said.
But Dacpano ruled that the defect of the warrantless arrest was “ultimately cured” when the teacher extrajudicially admitted to the media that “he indeed personally posted the provocative text in his own Twitter account.”
She said there was probable cause to indict Mas for sedition.
The case will be filed before a Zambales court next week, according to Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento.
Mas, a teacher from Santa Cruz, Zambales, was arrested on May 11 after he allegedly posted on Twitter via the account “@RonPrince” the message he would give P50 million to anyone who would kill President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Justice department is recommending bail of P72,000 for his provisional liberty.
In Malay, Aklan, police arrested a construction worker over a Facebook post in which he allegedly offered P100-million to anyone who could kill Duterte.
In Agusan del Norte, police also arrested a salesman who made a supposedly “libelous” statement against the President and his ally and former top aide, Senator Bong Go, on social media.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares on Friday condemned the arrest of salesman Reynaldo Orcullo for calling President Rodrigo Duterte “gago” or stupid in his social media account and then criticized the police for arresting those who disagreed with him while allowing the President and his supporters to vilify dissenters.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the arrest of salesman Reynaldo Orcullo as well as other netizens critical of President Rodrigo Duterte in the internet,” Colmenares said.
“This is an attack on the constitutional right to freedom of expression especially when President Duterte and his supporters remain untouched by state security forces for serious attacks against perceived opponents and dissenters.”
Zarate, on the other hand, called on the victims unjustly arrested to file before the Ombudsman or courts counter charges against the police who arrest them merely for criticizing the government or calling Duterte “gago, sira ulo, addict, kriminal, bastos or istupido.”