Agents of National Bureau Investigation, Dagupan office arrested public school teacher Ronnel Mas over his tweet offering P50 million as reward to anyone who could kill President Rodrigo Duterte.
National Bureau of Investigation Public Information Office
Prosecution: Warrantless arrest of teacher 'defective,' but confession to media 'cured' it
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - May 15, 2020 - 3:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — The defective warrantless arrest of the National Bureau of Investigation of public school teacher Ronnel Mas, who offered reward for President Rodrigo Duterte’s killing, was cured by his admission to the media, the prosecution ruled.

Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette Dacpano said in her inquest resolution “it is undeniable that the arrest of [Mas] made by the NBI-Dagupan operatives does not fall within the ambit of warrantless arrest contemplated by the law.”

But this has been “ultimately cured” by the teacher’s admission to media that he wrote and posted the tweet saying he is offering the reward.

'Inciting to sedition not continuous crime'

NBI agents arrested Mas on May 11 on a “hot pursuit” operation, the resolution noted.

Hot pursuit is one of the three grounds where a warrantless arrest may be deemed valid. This is when the offense has just been committed or the arresting officer has personal knowledge of the facts of the person.

The other two is when the offender was caught in the act and when the person is an escaped prisoner.

But Dacpano said the assailed tweet was posted on May 5 and several days have since passed before the aarrest was made.

“Inciting to sedition is not a continuous crime for which the offender may be arrested without a warrant duly issued by the proper authority,” she added.

The prosecutor also pointed out that the arresting officers, at the time when they accosted Mas, had no personal knowledge that the teacher committed the offense. “Being a cybercrime, the arresting officer must have conclusive evidence that the person who wrote the text in the Twitter account... is indeed [Mas] and not someone impersonating him,” she added.

The DOJ has, in the past, ruled that the warrantless arrest of web administrator Rodel Jayme, who posted links of the "Ang Totoong Narcolist" videos, was valid following "hot pursuit" principle.

"Since at the time that the [warrant] was implemented, the libellous videos and articles were still circulating online and excerpts of the videos were still being shown on television or heard over the radio, clearly, on offense is being committed, and an arrest of respondent without a warrant is justified,” the resolution further read.

RELATED: DOJ indicts 'sharer' of 'Bikoy' videos on inciting to sedition charge

Probable cause

This however has been “immaculately cured” by Mas’ extra-judicial confession to the members of the media, Dacpano said.

The prosecutor noted that Mas was quoted in media interviews where he admitted to writing the tweet and asking for forgiveness from the president.

“The words ‘I will give 50 million reward kung sino makakapatay kay Duterte. #NotoABSCBNShutDown” clearly suggests violent means to topple the Duterte administration,” the resolution read.

It is unclear whether Mas was made aware by the arresting agents that he has the “right to remain silent” when the media interview was conducted.

“By inviting others to act accordingly with the intended outcome of the President’s assassination in exchange for [P50 million], respondent is rousing commotion or disturbance in the state,” she added.

“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,” it further read.

The prosecution meanwhile deferred the complaint of violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials to “the proper government agency which has jurisdiction over the subject matter.”

NBI refuses to release Mas

Mas’ lawyer, Dino De Leon, has asked the NBI to immediately release Mas from custody.

In a letter to the bureau, he argued: “Based on the resolution of the investigatin prosecutor, the arrest of Mr. Mas was invalid.”

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers however said that the NBI refuses to release Mas “in the absence of DOJ or Court order.”

The charge against Mas will be filed “first thing” next week, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier told reporters.

Bail is set at P72,000.

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