An Olongapo City court has dismissed the inciting to sedition charges filed against Ronnel Mas, the public school teacher who offered a PHP50 million (US$999,230) reward to anyone who could kill President Rodrigo Duterte.
Judge Richard Paradeza granted Mas’ request to junk his case, where the latter raised the illegality of his arrest. The high school teacher was captured in early May by members of the National Bureau of Investigation in Zambales without a warrant of arrest.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the absence of a warrant made the arrest questionable but still allowed charges to be filed against Mas, arguing that the teacher’s confession to the media that he really did offer the reward online “ultimately cured” the illegitimacy of his capture.
Judge Peradeza, however, is having none of the DOJ’s illogical excuse. In a 15-page order dated June 24, the judge said the illegality of the arrest means the court has no jurisdiction over Mas. He added that a confession is not admissible as evidence when it violates a person’s rights.
“Even if the confession is gospel truth, if it was made without the assistance of counsel, it is inadmissible in evidence regardless of the absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given,” Paradeza said.
Using the handle @RonPrince_, Mas posted this message on Twitter on May 5, “I will give [a] P50M reward to anyone who can kill Duterte.” Mas also added this hashtag to his post: #NoToABSCBNShutDown.
The tweet no longer appears on Mas’ account, and he has already apologized to the president. He said that he just posted it to gain clout and get more followers online.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution states that no law shall be passed that will curtail a citizen’s freedom to freely express himself. The Supreme Court said that only in situations where “a danger that is clear and present” will the curtailment of free speech be allowed.
Duterte has said that his propensity to spew misogynistic remarks is protected by the constitution.
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