MANILA – State prosecutors have ordered the filing of inciting to sedition charges against Ronnel Mas, the teacher who promised to give a bounty to whoever can kill President Rodrigo R. Duterte in a Twitter post.
In a seven-page inquest resolution dated May 13 but released on Friday, Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon approved the recommendation of Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette M. Dacpano that the charges be filed before the courts.
“Actual disturbance, disorder, or public uprising is not necessary to constitute inciting to sedition. The law is not aimed merely at actual disturbance, as its purpose is also to punish utterances, which may endanger public order,” the prosecutors said.
They said Mas’ Twitter post, which read “the words I will give 50 million reward kung sino makakapatay kay (to whoever can kill) Duterte. #NotoABSCBNShutDown,” suggests violent means to topple the Duterte administration.
Prosecutors explained that the law alleged to have been violated punishes those who shall write, publish, or circulate scurrilous libels against the government or any of its duly constituted authorities or which suggest or incite rebellions, conspiracies, which tend to stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community.
They noted that Mas himself admitted to the media that he indeed personally posted the provocative message on social media.
Citing precedents, prosecutors said the confession did not form part of the custodial investigation and was not given to police officers but to a media man in an apparent attempt to elicit sympathy.
“Besides if he had indeed been forced into confessing, he could have easily asked help from the newsmen,” prosecutors said.
However, prosecutors said it is up to the appropriate government agency whether to pursue the separate charges for violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and grave misconduct filed against Mas.
“This Office defers investigation and resolution of these issues to the proper government agency which has jurisdiction over the subject matter,” they said.
They noted that the Civil Service Commission, as the central personnel agency of the government, has jurisdiction over disputes involving the removal and separation of all employees of government branches and is the sole arbiter of controversies relating to the civil service. (IA/PNA)