MANILA – A public school teacher arrested for a social media post offering a P50-million reward to kill President Rodrigo Duterte was released on bail on Tuesday.
An Olongapo City court ordered the release of Ronnel Mas from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detention facility after posting bail of P72,000.
Mas was assisted by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
The public school teacher, who hails from Sta. Cruz, Zambales, was arrested on May 11 over a post on his private Twitter account in which he offered P50 million for Duterte’s head.
Mas has since apologized to the President for the tweet.
“Nagso-sorry po [ako] kay Presidente Rodrigo Duterte at nagawa (ko) ito, iyong tweet na iyon, hindi ko po intensyon iyon, hindi ko po intensyon iyon," he said.
(I apologize to President Rodrigo Duterte for my tweet. That wasn't my intention.)
Assistant State Prosecutor Jeannette Dacpano, in a 7-page resolution, earlier said Mas’ arrest was invalid as it did not fall under any of the situations where a warrantless arrest is allowed.
In the same breath, she resolved that Mas' subsequent confession to the media cured the defect of his arrest and justified his detention.
Under the Rules of Court, warrantless arrest is valid only on 3 occasions: suspect is caught in the act of committing crime; hot pursuit (offense has just been committed and police has probable cause based on personal knowledge to believe person committed it); and arrest of an escaped prisoner.
"[T]he defect of Mas's warrantless arrest was ultimately cured when Mas extra-judicially admitted to the media that he indeed personally posted the provocative text in his own Twitter account @RonPrince_," she said.
Mas' arrest was the first in a string of arrests of individuals who had posted threats and criticism against the President on social media, including a construction worker in Boracay who posted about a bounty offer of P100 million for Duterte's death, and a sales agent in Agusan del Norte who called the President "crazy" and an "asshole" in a Facebook post.
- With reports from Niko Baua and Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News