Feb 21, 2021 @ 10:09

FLAG welcomes resolution clearing teacher in inciting to sedition case

Lawyer Dino de Leon of the Free Legal Assistance Group welcomed over the weekend the resolution of a Zambales prosecutor dismissing the re-filed case against teacher Ronnel Mas, who found himself in hot water for offering in Twitter a reward of P50-million for anyone who could kill President Duterte.

“The enablers of atrocities of this regime can only go so far, for so long as there are people who will stand up for the rule of law. Indeed, what this decision shows that ordinary people like teacher Ronnel can push back and can stand up against oppression, injustice, and violations of human rights,” said De Leon.

In a resolution dated February 16, 2021 but was publicly released on Saturday,
acting Provincial Prosecutor Jose Theodoro Leonardo Santos dismissed the inciting to sedition case for “lack of probable cause” after the National Bureau of Investigation failed to secure a witness to prove that it was Mas who posted the tweet.

Last June, the Olongapo City regional trial court junked the inciting to sedition case filed against Mas.

In a 15-page decision, Branch 72 Judge Richard A. Paradeza granted the motion to quash the criminal information filed by Mas.

The court said that the defect in the warrantless arrest by agents of the NBI was not cured by the extra-judicial confession of Mas to the media.

” Contrary to the findings of the inquest-prosecutor, assuming that there was an extra-judicial admission made by Mas, and further assuming that accused Mas was not coerced or forced into giving an admission in the course of the interview, the warrantless arrest of the accused was not cured by the extra-judicial admission before media,” the court ruled.

Also, the court noted that the NBI arrested Mas while the latter wasn’t committing any crime at that time, hence, the evidence gathered thereafter was inadmissible in evidence.

” It is thus again safe to conclude that the arrest of accused Mas is unlawful, and evidence gathered as a consequence of said unlawful arrest is inadmissible in evidence,” the court ruled.

However, the court admitted that the controversial tweet was ‘despicable’ as it tends to undermine authorities” as no other than the President of the Philippines was its target. ”

In fact, the court lauded the NBI for its timely investigation as it stopped circulation of provocative posts in social media.

” However, no matter how contemptible or reprehensible the post is, the person or persons suspected to be responsible to the posting of the subject provocative text should be afforded their constitutional rights,” the court said.

NBI agents arrested Mas for posting on Twitter a P50-million bounty for President Duterte’s death.

“I will give P50 Million reward kung sino makakapatay kay Duterte,” Mas wrote.

While it admitted that Mas’ arrest was not proper, the Department of Justice still indicted him for inciting to sedition.

Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette M. Dacpano stressed that the teacher’s extra-judicial admission before media cured the defect in his arrest.

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