General Doria’s blatant lies  

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

The fabricated statements and mug shots released by the police on the posting of bail bond of mediaman Arnold Bustamante are shockingly foul.

The Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) of the PNP made it appear that after the court issued a warrant of arrest against Bustamante in a cyber-libel case, he evaded arrest like a hardened criminal. ACG made it appear that it exerted so much effort to arrest Bustamante.

General Joel Doria, ACG chief, said that Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit in Central Visayas launched an “Oplan Tracker” that led to the successful arrest of Bustamante. He then commended the “efforts” of the operating teams in the “successful” police operation.

Doria’s lies were backed up by Bustamante’s pitiable mug shots taken after they ordered him to wear a prisoner’s orange t-shirt printed with ACG in front. Everyone who saw it was alarmed! True enough, a picture is worth a thousand words.

What makes it tragic is because it happened when the Cebu media was in the midst of celebrating Broadcasters’ Month and Press Freedom Week.

Truthfully, here is the chronology of events. On Monday, September 19, 2022, Bustamante informed me that he received the resolution from the fiscal’s office recommending filing the cyber-libel case against him in court.

On September 20, I met the investigating prosecutor of Bustamante’s case because she is my opposing counsel in another case I handled at RTC 58 in Cebu City. After the trial, I asked her about the status of Bustamante’s case, hoping I could still file a motion for reconsideration.

She, however, told me that it was already filed in court. So I inquired at the clerk of court and knew that the same landed at RTC 11.

Because the case is in court already, we decided to face it squarely there. Anticipating that a warrant of arrest was coming, I instructed Bustamante to prepare the necessary documents for bail, such as barangay clearance, a sketch of his house, and mug shots. Everything was prepared already so that we could immediately post bail if a warrant came out. Radio station dyHP shouldered the bail.

On September 21 and 22, we closely monitored the court’s update. On the morning of September 23, the warrant was issued. So, Bustamante voluntarily went to court to post bail. Believing that the ACG could help facilitate the posting of bail, he allowed them to go with him instead of other units such CIDG, CIIB, etc.

He posted his bail; hence, he could actively participate in the activities of the culmination of Press Freedom Week.

Contrary to what Doria wants us to believe, there is no such thing as ACG launching an “Oplan Tracker” to arrest Bustamante successfully. Doria’s statements are malicious and condemnable.

Doria must think that what they did to Bustamante would be an accomplishment for his unit. He is wrong. It will only reinforce the public perception that the police are fond of fabricating stories. This can instead damage the unit, if not the whole PNP organization.

One cannot imagine that ACG can afford to fabricate a story against a credible mediaman. Bustamante is a reporter and anchorman of dyHP RMN Cebu, a reporter for Sunstar Superbalita, and a TV reporter for the Cebu Catholic Television Network. There is every reason to believe they can do it to ordinary citizens.

If ACG could afford to fabricate a story against a president of the Defense PNP Press Corps (DEPP) and president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ), how much more towards new reporters?

I believe that the well-meaning members of media in Cebu are alarmed.


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