MANILA – The Department of Justice indicted Monday the man earlier tagged as the sharer of videos linking the Duterte family to illegal narcotics.
A panel led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Devanadera found probable cause to charge Rodel Jayme, owner of website MetroBalita.net, with inciting to sedition under Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Jayme, who was arrested last week, is accused of spreading the controversial “Ang Totoong Narco-list” videos.
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.
In a 13-page resolution, DOJ prosecutors said the creation of the website and the subsequent posting of the “Bikoy” videos “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.”
“It is a known fact that President Duterte has declared an all-out war against drugs and a video containing these allegations 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 to a breach of the peace and are conducive to the destruction of the very government itself,” the resolution said.
In a press conference at the Justice Department Monday afternoon, Devanadera said “the posting of videos would tend to stir up people’s dissatisfaction with the government. They are inciting people for disloyalty.”
In the same resolution, DOJ prosecutors also recommended that the NBI investigate other personalities involved, such as a certain @Maru Nguyen or @Maru Xie with whom Jayme communicated about the posting of the controversial videos.
Amid questions surrounding the legality of Jayme’s arrest, DOJ prosecutors said it was valid as it was a case of hot pursuit.
Under the Rules of Court, warrantless arrests are valid only on three occasions: when the person is caught in the act of committing a crime (in flagrante delicto); when the person to be arrested has just committed an offense and the one arresting has personal knowledge of the facts (hot pursuit); and when a prisoner has just escaped from prison or escapes while being transferred confinement.
DOJ prosecutors said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) personnel had personal knowledge of the probable cause for Jayme’s arrest at the time the search warrant was served on April 30, having conducted a review and surveillance of different social media accounts, and actual surveillance of Jayme.
But the DOJ resolution also went as far as saying, the offense was still being committed at the time the search warrant was served on Jayme, effectively making the offense a continuing crime.
“…[S]ince at the time that the WWSECD was implemented, the libelous videos and articles were still circulating online and excerpts of the videos are still being shown on television or heard over the radio, clearly, an offense is still being committed, and an arrest of respondent without a warrant is justified,” the resolution said.
DOJ prosecutors during the press conference clarified that the basis is hot pursuit, even if the arrest was made days after the last video was posted.
The resolution itself said the last “Bikoy” video was posted on April 22, or several days before Jayme’s arrest on April 30.
ABS-CBN News pointed out some Supreme Court rulings which declared that an arrest made a day after the crime was committed was no longer considered a valid hot pursuit arrest.
But prosecutors said, this rule is not absolute.
“We based the validity of the arrest on the dynamics of cybercrime. Iba ‘yung mangyayari whenever a crime is committed through a computer system or online. Kaya valid ‘yung arrest kasi at that time, nakapost pa rin siya…Nagkakaroon pa rin yung objective nila,” Devanadera said.
“There’s no hard and fast rule now. We’re determining probable cause based on what appears to us to be the facts,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera added.
Navera also dismissed questions surrounding the length of time it took the arresting authorities to lodge a complaint with the DOJ, saying it will not affect the complaint but will only provide Jayme the option to file a case against arresting authorities.
The NBI only filed an inciting to sedition complaint with DOJ prosecutors on the afternoon of May 2 or beyond the maximum 36-hour period under the Revised Penal Code to detain a suspect before delivery to proper judicial authorities.
DOJ prosecutors said they will file the criminal charge in a Parañaque court early Tuesday.
They recommended bail at P36,000.
If found liable, Jayme faces up to 12 years in prison.
On Monday, a certain Peter Joemel Advincula claimed he was the hooded "Bikoy" in the videos. He said he went public to seek legal aid and deny his alleged ties to the opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso.
Jayme earlier claimed that he only created the website which hosted the anti-Duterte videos and was never responsible for its content.
He said he agreed after being told it would only be used to share articles highlighting the achievements of the previous administration.
"Kapwa po sila supporter noon... ng Liberal Party... Ang website po ay pinagawa lang po sa akin. Hindi po ako si Bikoy. Wala po akong in-upload," Jayme insisted.
(They were both supporters of the Liberal Party... They asked me to create the website. I am not Bikoy. I did not upload anything.)