MANILA (UPDATE) – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed an inciting to sedition charge against the administrator and registrant of a website who had been found sharing the controversial “Bikoy” videos, which implicated members of the first family in the illegal drug trade.
In an 8-page resolution, the NBI said the charge against Rodel Jayme, under whose name the website MetroBalita.net was registered, was based on email and Facebook conversations showing “continuity” of efforts to conduct libelous attacks against the government.
"Based on the retrieved conversations, there is continuity of their efforts to conduct their scurrilous libelous attacks against the government. The conversation also revealed that these attacks are planned and with backing from certain personalities," the resolution read.
In the same resolution, the NBI said Jayme was arrested after a certain Teresa Ranola filed a complaint against him before its Cybercrime Division on April 26.
"She narrated that on the 5th Bikoy video (Episode 5 posted last April 22, 2019) she was named and maliciously imputed as part of a Quadrangle Group who was involved in the illegal drug trade," it read.
Aside from MetroBalita, the NBI also identified Pinoy Ako Blog, Change Scamming, Madam Claudia, and What Fact Blog as among active sharers of Bikoy videos.
Senior Asst. State Prosecutor Anna Devanadera is set to issue a resolution regarding the complaint by Friday.
Jayme underwent inquest at the DOJ on Thursday afternoon.
In a text message to reporters Thursday afternoon, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he “was informed that the initial charge will be inciting to sedition” but declined to comment any further.
Just an hour earlier, at a press conference, Guevarra and other officials of the DOJ and the NBI had been mum about what charges will be filed against Jayme.
Guevarra said it appears that the website was the one that started sharing the controversial videos titled “Ang Totoong Narco-list.”
The video features a hooded “Bikoy,” a self-confessed former member of a drug syndicate, who accused Duterte’s son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, his son-in-law Atty. Manases Carpio and former aide Christopher Go of owning bank accounts where the alleged drug money went.
“Further investigation disclosed that a certain website with domain name, metrobalita.net, was constantly posting links of the aforesaid Ang Totoong Narco-list video, which allowed the public to have easier access thereto,” Guevarra said.
MetroBalita was also identified in the “Oust Duterte matrix” released by Malacañang and published by The Manila Times.
Under the Revised Penal Code, inciting to sedition may be committed through speeches or writing which, among others, “lead or tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities” without taking any direct participation in the crime of sedition.
Sedition, on the other hand, may be committed by, among others, inflicting “any act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of any public officer or employee.”
Inciting to sedition is punishable by a maximum of 6 years in prison and a fine of P2,000.00.
The Department of Justice cybercrime office earlier said Thursday that the then still-unidentified Jayme was arrested for cyber libel for “uploading” the Bikoy videos on Youtube.
Both the cybercrime office and Guevarra clarified in text messages to reporters that the arrested person is not the same as “Bikoy” who appeared in the videos.
During the press conference, however, NBI Cybercrime Division chief Victor Lorenzo said Jayme only shared the videos and they are still investigating if he was the one who also uploaded the videos.
Guevarra also said Jaime and Bikoy may not necessarily be one and the same, and that they are “still uncertain as to the identity of Bikoy.”
Asked by ABS-CBN News about a Supreme Court ruling which declared that mere sharing of videos is not liable for cyber libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, DOJ Cybercrime Office OIC Charito Zamora hinted that there could be other liabilities beyond cyber libel.
Lorenzo, for his part, also said there could be a case for violation of RA 7610, the law against child abuse, because the Bikoy videos also mentioned the alleged involvement of the President’s daughter, Veronica “Kitty” Duterte.
NO POLITICAL COLOR
Guevarra said Malacanang did not have a hand in the NBI’s investigation.
He said the NBI applied for a search warrant on April 29 and it was issued on the same day by Makati City RTC Branch 148 Judge Andres Soriano on April 29.
The search warrant was served in Jayme's house on April 30.
It was not immediately clear when Jayme was “arrested” although the DOJ claimed the arrest was incidental to the service of the search warrant on a supposed crime that has yet to be bared by authorities. They also declined to comment if cyber libel may be considered a continuing crime to justify arrest without a warrant.
Guevarra said Jayme “voluntarily” went to the NBI to answer some questions.
Under the law, authorities have 18 hours within which to file a case punishable by correctional penalties like inciting to sedition.