Inside the inciting to sedition charge vs 'sharer' of 'Bikoy' videos

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Inside the inciting to sedition charge vs 'sharer' of 'Bikoy' videos
Rodel Jayme, the administrator of a website where the ‘Bikoy’ videos were first uploaded, is presented to the media during a press briefing at the NBI.

MANILA, Philippines — When authorities arrested web administrator Rodel Jayme, they were looking at a cyberlibel charge against him over his website’s sharing of links “Ang Totoong Narcolist.” But when probe reached the local court, the government have filed an inciting to sedition case against him.

Jayme is the web administrator of metrobalita.net, which he said in a press conference Friday last week, was a website he was asked to create for the purpose of pushing certain political personalities’ “good acts.”

Authorities said the site was found to have been "constantly posting links of the aforesaid 'Ang Totoong Narcolist' which allowed public to have easier access” to the videos.

Jayme stressed that he has no knowledge of the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos that feature a hooded, masked “Bikoy,” who alleged that the Duterte family has ties to the illegal narcotics trade. But Jayme’s “defense,” state prosecutors pointed out, was out of DOJ’s records and would be better threshed out in court trial.

The arrest

Guevarra said in a televised press conference Thursday that he ordered an investigation into the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos—that alleged narcotics trade links to the Dutertes—on April 17.

During the course of the investigation, a certain Teresa Ranola filed a complaint on April 26, saying “she was named and maliciously imputed as part of a Quadrangle Group who was involved in the illegal drug trade.” Authorities were then looking at a cyberlibel complaint against Jayme.

DOJ and National Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a warrant for search and seizure of computer data on April 29. They served the warrant on April 30 and Jayme was arrested incidental to the search.

More than two days since the arrest of Jayme, National Bureau of Investigation agents brought him to the DOJ for inquest. The number of hours between the arrest and the filing of a complaint were well outside the allowed time to bring an arrested person for inquest proceeding.

The NBI complaint

The NBI said that they recovered Jayme’s email and Facebook conversations with a certain “Maru Nguyen” and “Maru Xie,” whom they said are the same person.

“Based on the retrieved conversations, there is continuity of their efforts to conduct their scurrilous libellous attacks against the government. The conversations revealed that these attacks are planned and with backing from certain personalities,” it added.

The bureau stressed that with the advent of social media, audiences worldwide can be reached. “Status posts and the likes are now considered as ‘electronic speech’ or speech done electronically," it added.

“Seditious words or speeches, write, publish, or circulate scurrilous libels, can now be done electronically (Social media and Blog web pages) and being online it now caters to a larger and wider audience,” the complaint read.

According to the Revised Penal Code, inciting to sedition can be done through speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, cartoons, banners or other representations that:

tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office, or instigate others to cabal and meet together for unlawful purposes, or which suggest or incite rebellious conspiracies or riots, or which lead or tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the government, or who shall knowingly conceal such evil practices.

The DOJ resolution

State prosecutors, in a resolution released Monday, recommended the filing of information (or charge sheet) for violation of Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of the Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act against Jayme.

They said: “By creating a website and subsequently posting videos allege the involvement in the drug trade and the receipt of pay-offs of the President of the Philippines and members of his family, including the President’s minor daughter, is not an exercise of his freedom of speech and expression, but a clear act to arouse among its viewers a sense of dissatisfaction against the duly constituted authorities.

The Revised Penal Code defines sedition as “committed by persons who rise publicly and tumultuously in order to attain by force, intimidation, or by other means outside of legal methods.”

They stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte mounted a ruthless campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs, and a video alleging that the chief executive and his children benefit from the illegal drug trade “cannot but be interpreted as a scheme to weaken the confidence of the people in the Government."

“These acts are against public peace and are criminal in nature as they tend to incite a breach of the peace and are conducive to the destruction of the very government itself,” it added.

Quoting Oscar Mendoza v People, an SC case dated Dec. 17, 1951, the prosecutors stressed:

. . . the great factors of government, consisting of the Sovereign, the Parliament, the ministers of state, the courts of justice, must be recognized as holding functions founded on sound principles and to be defended and treated with an established and well-nigh unalterable respect. Each of these great institutions has peculiar virtues and peculiar weaknesses, but whether at any one time the virtue or the weakness predominates, there must be a certain standard of decorum reserved for all. Each guarded remonstrance, each fiery invective, each burst of indignation must rest on some basis of respect and deference towards the depository, for the time being, of every great constitutional function. Hence another limit of free speech and writing is sedition. And yet within there is ample room and verge enough for the freest use of the tongue and pen in passing strictures in the judgment and conduct of every constituted authority.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of Duterte, is facing same charges before Pasay courts.

One charge stemmed from the senator's remarks against the president during the amnesty row that "were intended to instill in the minds of the people a feeling of hatred and distrust towards the President of the Philippines, the Government and its duly constituted authorities.” Another emanated from his remarks about the president's alleged hidden wealth.

State witness?

If convicted, Jayme may serve a maximum of 6 years in prison.

But the NBI floated last week that Jayme may serve as a state witness as the government continue to dig into the "Bikoy" video.

“That’s very possible that’s why if you look at the strategy of the NBI, we have to file a case against him. Because later on if we intend to consider him as a state witness, he should be charged first,” NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin explained.

“If we could prove that his involvement is only until the creation of the website, then upon due application with Department of Justice and it is considered by DOJ, we could qualify him as state witness,” he added.

The arrested web administrator told the media that he is ready to serve as state witness.

“Because I know, I am telling you, I have no direct knowledge and I can point whoever ordered the creation (of the website). Like I said, I am cooperating with the NBI,” Jayme said in Filipino.

vuukle comment





  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with