The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Rodel Jayme with Inciting to Sedition (Art. 142 of the Revised Penal Code) in relation to Sec. 6 of Republic Act No. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) before the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court.
The Information accused Jayme of unlawfully publishing and circulating “scurrilous libels against the Government and its duly constituted authorities in different social media platforms.”
The charge stems from, among others, statements which allege that President Rodrigo Duterte and members of his family received pay-offs from drug personalities and that they are involved in the drug trade. The Information said these statements “may lead or tend to disturb or obstruct any lawful officer in executing the functions of his office and stir up the people against the lawful authorities or to disturb the peace of the community, the safety and order of the Government.”
The Information was signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Noreen T. Devanadera and Associate Prosecution Attorney II Mary Grace S. Arboladura. Its filing was approved by OIC-Prosecutor General Richard Anthony D. Fadullon.
Finding of probable cause for Violation of Art. 142, RPC
During the preliminary investigation of the complaint against Jayme, the prosecutors found records which show that Jayme “was the one who created the website metrobalita.com, one of first social media accounts to post the videos of ‘Bikoy’ posted on Youtube.com, with handle name ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’.”
The Resolution said the creation of the website and the posting of the videos therein do not amount to an exercise of respondent’s freedom of speech and expression, but are clearly acts intended to arouse a sense of dissatisfaction against the Government.
As the acts were committed through the use of a computer system, Sec. 6 of RA 10175, which imposes a penalty one degree higher than that provided under the RPC, applies.
Validity of Jayme’s arrest
The panel found valid Jayme’s arrest. It explained that a Warrant to Search, Seize and Examine Computer Data (WSSECD) was issued by the Makati City RTC Branch 148. Said warrant gave the NBI authority to “search, seize and examine [Jayme’s] computer set, laptops, and cellular phones” found in his residence in Parañaque City.
Upon its implementation, the NBI recovered computer systems and retrieved Jayme’s facebook account, emails and communications pertaining to the website metrobalita.net, including an admission from “Maru Nguyen” regarding the posting of the Bikoy videos on the metrobalita.net website.
Jayme was present during the implementation of the WSSECD.
The prosecutors said at that point, “the NBI already had personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the person to be arrested has been committing an offense” and thus had probable cause to arrest Jayme.
The prosecutors further stressed that even before the application and implementation of the WSSECD, probable cause already existed, since Jayme as early as then had committed a crime and that the NBI already had grounds to validly arrest him based on its surveillance. They added that the examination of all computer sets and electronic devices owned by Jayme confirmed that he had access to metrobalita.com. Jayme neither denied nor submitted evidence to refute the foregoing.
The Resolution cited Sec. 5(b), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court which states that a peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person “when an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it.”
It further said that Jayme’s arrest without warrant is justified since at the time of the implementation of WSSECD, the libelous videos and articles were still circulating online and excerpts of videos were still being shown on television or heard over the radio.
Other personalities involved
The panel recommended that the NBI conduct a thorough and detailed investigation on the true identities of other persons involved and to file the appropriate complaints against them.
The prosecutors recommended P36,000 bail for Jayme’s temporary liberty.