VANN MARLO M. VILLEGAS
By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter
THE Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday disclosed the identity of the arrested netizen who shared the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” (The Real Narcolist) which implicated members of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s family in the drug trade.
In a press conference, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra identified the suspect as Rodel Jayme, also the domain owner of website Metro Balita, who was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Tuesday, in connection with shared links of the video series that went viral in April and which featured a certain “Bikoy” linking members of the Duterte family to illegal drugs.
By Thursday evening, the NBI recommended to the DoJ the charge of inciting to sedition in connection with Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act against Mr. Jayme.
Mr. Guevarra said a search warrant ordering the seizure of Mr. Jayme’s computer, mobile phone, and internet provider was served on April 30.
“Rodel Jayme was cooperative and surrendered his desktop computer and his peripherals, mobile phone, and internet service provider…which are subject of the said warrant,” Mr. Guevarra said. “After the implementation of the said warrant, Rodel Jayme voluntarily went to the NBI headquarters with the CCD (Cybercrime Division) agents to provide clarifications on the issues involving the publication of the ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’ videos.”
He was ordered arrested following forensic laboratory examination by the NBI which showed that he was the registrant and administrator of the Metro Balita website.
The NBI said it is still investigating the identity of the uploader of the videos.
The said videos tagged presidential son Paolo Z. Duterte and Manases Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
In a statement, Ms. Duterte-Carpio said she will not file charges against the uploader of the videos, describing the suspect as “just a fool, no depth.”
NBI-CCD Chief Victor V. Lorenzo also said other criminal charges may be filed against Mr. Jayme, such as violation of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law, since Mr. Duterte’s youngest daughter, Veronica, was also tagged in the video.
“From our point of view he must have known that those videos were produced and they were just a tool in propagating those videos,” Mr. Lorenzo said.
Mr. Guevarra for his part said, “It appears that he was the one who started all of this, like creating the website behind the subsequent uploading of the ‘Bikoy’ videos. It’s just logical that the NBI start with him.”
But DoJ Office of Cybercrime Division Chief Charito A. Zamora, citing a 2014 Supreme Court (SC) decision, said: “Mere sharing of the videos is not punishable or will have no crime liability. But then of course we don’t want to say in a straight manner that they don’t have any liability,…since it’s still [a] continuing investigation. Because, who knows? Those who might have also shared the videos would have also some sort of liab[ility] as may be later on disclosed, as per investigation of the NBI agency.”
“The Supreme Court in 2014 ruled that those who share or like a supposedly defamatory post online will not be liable under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, saying shares or likes are “essentially knee-jerk sentiments of readers who may think little or haphazardly of their response to the original posting.”
For his part, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson told ANC in an interview: “The first question that needs to be answered is, is the arrest proper or legal?…Unless he was arrested for violation of another crime and then he willingly was subjected to preliminary investigation on this particular offense that he is known for, then the arrest could be considered proper. But without a proper legal basis for conducting the arrest,…I think the DOJ or the NBI should explain why they arrested him.” — with Maya M. Padillo