DOJ: Arrested blogger owns site that spread ‘Bikoy’ videos
The blogger arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday over the “True Narcolist” series on YouTube was the owner of the website through which the videos that linked members of President Duterte’s family to the illegal drug trade were circulated, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday.
But Rodel Jayme, Guevarra told a news conference, was not the uploader of the videos in which a hooded man who called himself “Bikoy” claimed he had worked for drug syndicates and alleged that two of Duterte’s children—former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Veronica “Kitty” Duterte—were involved in the illegal drug trade.
In the videos, Bikoy also alleged that former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, lawyer Manases Carpio—husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte—other politicians and some businessmen from Bicol region had links to drug syndicates.
Guevarra said Jayme was taken into custody after the NBI examined his computer, cell phones and ISP billing statements and discovered that he was the “registrant and administrator” of the website metrobalita.net that constantly published the link to the videos, facilitating the circulation of the videos on social media.
‘He started all this’
“It appears that he was the one who started all of this by creating the website behind the subsequent uploading of the Bikoy videos,” Guevarra said.
“It’s just logical that the NBI starts with him,” he added.
The NBI filed a complaint of inciting to sedition in relation to violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act against Jayme around 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Jayme declined to sign a waiver for his detention, which means the prosecutors have to resolve as soon as possible whether there is probable cause to file charges against him in court.
There will be no more preliminary investigation.
According to the complaint, the NBI regarded the videos as “scurrilous.”
Inciting to sedition includes the circulation of scurrilous libel against the government that tends to stir up the people against lawful authorities.
At the news conference, Guevarra said Jayme would also be investigated for possible violation of the child abuse law because of his allegation in one video that Veronica Duterte, who is only 15 years old, received protection money from drug syndicates.
The justice chief declined to give further details, saying the NBI had other persons of interest to talk to.
NBI cybercrime agents raided Jayme’s house at Barangay Moonwalk, Parañaque City, at 4 a.m. on Tuesday in search of equipment used in the publication of the Bikoy videos.
Guevarra said the agents were armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Andres Soriano of Branch 148 of the Makati Regional Trial Court.
“Jayme was cooperative and he surrendered his [computer], peripherals, mobile phone, ISP billing statement, [which were the subjects] of [the] warrant,” Guevarra said.
“Jayme then voluntarily went to the NBI to provide clarification of the publication of [the] ‘Totoong Narcolist’ videos,” he added.
Probe of videos
Guevarra said he ordered the justice department’s Office of Cybercrime and the NBI on April 17 to investigate the posting of the videos.
According to initial findings, the videos posted on a YouTube channel were traced to metrobalita.com.
Guevarra said the government asked Google, owner of YouTube, to preserve the data. Google agreed, he added.
The secretary said the Totoong Narcolist channel was created by another website, metro
balita.net. Both the YouTube channel and metrobalita.net have since been taken down, he said.
Investigators also found that a Twitter account called @MetroBalita, which commented on the videos, listed its official website as metrobalita.com.
The account has since been edited to remove reference to metrobalita.com, and the website itself has been taken down, too.
Guevarra said investigation of metrobalita.com yielded the identity of Jayme and other personal details, including mailing address, prompting the NBI to apply for a search warrant for the seizure and examination of computer data for possible violation or continuing violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Examination of the seized equipment showed Jayme was the registrant of metrobalita.com and that he published the link of the videos on the website.
Jayme’s arrest was “incidental” to the service of the warrant, Guevarra said.
He said more details would come out once the NBI was through examining Jayme’s laptop, cell phones and other equipment.
“We are not done with this guy yet. After further investigation some other people, some special people who propagated the video in a very vigorous manner may be investigated,” Guevarra said.
Jayme refused to talk to reporters at the NBI. He wore a ball cap and a mask.
His mother, Maria Delia Jayme, told reporters that she did not know what he had done.
She said all she knew was that her son was unemployed and that he supported Liberal Party (LP) candidates in the 2016 elections in the belief that he would get a job under an LP-led government.
She described her son as a computer addict and “gullible.”
A friend of her son’s approached him in March to do something online, she said.
“The NBI already took my son’s computer. They already saw the conversations and they know who ordered my son to do it,” she said.
Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday said the government should look into the allegations of Bikoy and see whether he could serve as a state witness.
“He should be considered a whistleblower, right? He should be given protection so we will know if he is telling the truth,” Robredo said in a talk with reporters in Sorsogon. —WITH REPORTS FROM DARRYL JOHN ESGUERRA, AIE BALAGTAS SEE AND GABRIEL PABICO LALU
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