MANILA – The arraignment of the public school teacher from Zambales who threatened on Twitter post the life of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been reset to next month.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento told reporters that Ronnel Mas’ lawyers had “filed a motion to quash”, which resulted in the moving of his arraignment and pre-trial to June 28 from the original schedule set on May 28.
Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72 Judge Richard Paradeza earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office in Manila to release Mas after he posted a PHP72,000-bond for his provisional release.
In a seven-page inquest resolution dated May 13, Malcontento and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon approved the recommendation of Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette Dacpano that the charges be filed before the courts.
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 said 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.
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.
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. (PNA)