Warrantless arrest of teacher who offered reward to kill Duterte invalid but ‘cured’
MANILA, Philippines – What was prosecutors tagged as the illegal arrest of the teacher who offered a P50-million reward to kill President Rodrigo Duterte has been cured by his admission of guilt before the media, a Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution stated.
In the seven-page resolution, the DOJ ruled that there is probable cause to file a case for inciting to sedition in relation to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act against Ronnel Mas for posting last May 5 on his @RonPrince Twitter account this message: “I will give 50 million reward kung sino makakapatay kay Duterte #NoToABSCBNShutDown.”
“There exists probable cause to indict respondent Mas of violation of Article 142 of the RPC. Sedition, in its more general sense, is ‘the raising of commotion or disturbances in the state’,” the prosecutor stated.
Mas was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last May 11. The DOJ said the arrest does not fall within the ambit of a warrantless arrest.
“Inciting to sedition is not a continuous crime for which the offender may be arrested without a warrant duly issued by the proper authority,” read the May 13 inquest resolution signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette Dacpano and approved by Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.
Under the rules, for a warrantless arrest to be valid, the offense should have just been committed and the arresting officer has personal knowledge of facts that it was the particular person who has committed the offense.
In this case, the NBI inquired through social media if anyone knows the owner of the @RonPrince account until someone has sent them a message and gave them information. The witness said he learned of the social media post of Mas after his brother-in-law showed him Mas’ photo and asked if Mas is related to his “kumare.”
From there, the NBI has managed to locate Mas at his place in Dagupan where he voluntarily surrendered.
While on his way to Manila, inside the vehicle, the NBI interviewed him and asked why he made such an offer via social media.
The questioning was posted on Facebook and generated 960 reactions, 611 comments, and 856 shares.
The NBI operative asked Mas: “Would you like to apologize to the President and the people. You are asking an apology?”
“Sorry po ako kay Presidente at nagawa ko yung tweet na yun. Hindi ko po intensyon yun,” said Mas who was sitting between his crying parents.
(I am sorry Mr. President that I wrote that tweet. It is not my intention to have you killed.)
In Manila, he repeated his confession and apology after the NBI asked him questions before members of the media.
The resolution said with Mas’ extra-judicial admission, “the defect of the warrantless arrest was ultimately cured.”
Concerning his offense, the prosecutors said Mas’ statement in his Twitter account “clearly suggests violent means to topple the Duterte administration.”
“By inviting others to act accordingly with the intended outcome of the President’s assassination in exchange for Php50,000,000, the respondent is rousing commotion or disturbance in the state,” she pointed out.
“Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code punishes those who shall write, publish, or circulate scurrilous libels against the Government of the Philippines or any of the duly-constituted authorities thereof or which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots or which tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community,” she added.
The prosecutors recommended P72,000 bail for his temporary liberty.
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