MANILA (UPDATE) -- The Department of Justice on Monday lodged inciting to sedition raps against the creator of a website that shared videos tagging President Rodrigo Duterte's family to the narcotics trade.
The charges in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act were filed against Rodel Jayme, owner of website MetroBalita.net, before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court, which set the bail at P36,000.
The "Totoong Narco-list" videos claimed drug money was funneled into the bank accounts of Duterte's son former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, his son-in-law Atty. Manases Carpio, and former aide Christopher Go.
"Bikoy," a hooded figure in the videos, claimed that he used to keep financial records for the drug syndicate that allegedly had dealings with the Duterte family.
Jayme, who was arrested last week, said he made the MetroBalita website for Liberal Party supporters, but said he did not know anything about the videos. The opposition party has denied hiring him.
DOJ prosecutors earlier said the website's creation and the posting of the "Bikoy" videos there were "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."
Inquest prosecutors also said Jayme's arrest was valid as it stemmed from a hot pursuit.
Under the Rules of Court, warrantless arrests are valid only on 3 occasions: when the person is caught in the act of committing a crime; the person 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.
The videos make the President and the involved people "very vulnerable", said acting prosecutor general Richard Fadullon.
"You have somebody (Duterte) actively and strongly campaigning against drugs. That would undermine the trust of the people and the support of the people would have for him," he told ANC.
"If you look at the law of sedition, it makes mention there of the hurling of or casting of libel, the intention of which is to create a feeling of hate."
Fadullon denied that the justice department was giving special attention to the case.
"The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) did file a case against him, they brought him to the Department of Justice for inquest and that's really a matter of course. The department will have to act on it, conduct an investigation and come up with its own findings," he said earlier Tuesday.
Tagged in the charges against Jayme were several unidentified individuals who allegedly helped spread the Totoong Narcolist videos.
If found guilty, Jayme could face a prison sentence of 6 to 12 years.