Philippine National Police

QC police sue person who shared viral ‘VIP’ Commonwealth traffic video

Jodesz Gavilan

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QC police sue person who shared viral ‘VIP’ Commonwealth traffic video

QCPD. The logo of the Quezon City Police District.

Rappler.com

The complaint cites Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code, the same law that the Rodrigo Duterte administration used against netizens who criticized his government's COVID-19 response

MANILA, Philippines – A man accused of uploading the viral video of cops stopping traffic along Commonwealth Avenue – allegedly for Vice President Sara Duterte – is facing a complaint for violating an obscure law on “fake news.”

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) filed a complaint against Janus Munar on October 13, for violating Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and Republic Act No. 7610 in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, according to his lawyer, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Article 154 of the RPC covers “unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances.” According to Diokno, this old law is rarely used and, to the recollection of experts, no case has reached the Supreme Court. It is the same law that the Rodrigo Duterte administration used to summon “more than a dozen people” over social media posts critical of his government’s coronavirus response.

In a letter sent to the QCPD on October 12, Diokno emphasized that Munar just shared the video, contrary to the police’s claim that it was him who uploaded it.

“Mr. Munar is not the person who took the video and is not related or affiliated in any way with that person. He does not even know the name or identify of that person,” Diokno said.

Kontra tayo sa fake news at child abuse, pero mukhang diskriminasyon na ito (We’re against fake news and child abuse, but this looks like discrimination),” he later posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Diokno said Munar is yet to receive any subpoena nor a copy of a complaint, and is now concerned that an arrest warrant will be issued “on the mistaken assumption that he has waived his right to participate in the preliminary investigation.”

“He fully intends to participate in the preliminary investigation by submitting a counter-affidavit upon receipt of the subpoena and complaint against him,” the lawyer told City Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano of the QC Prosecutors Office in a letter dated October 25.

In an October 6 radio interview over DWPM Radyo 630, Police Lieutenant Colonel May Genio publicly named Munar and identified him as a “staunch critic” of the Vice President based on his Facebook posts. Diokno said this was “uncalled for, and recklessly endangered his security of person.”

“By publicly identifying him as the one who took the video, the QCPD has defied recently issued PNP guidelines, violated my client’s right to privacy, and put him in harm’s way,” he said, adding that Munar has received threats both online and on the ground, including unidentified people visiting his workplace.

The Vice President has denied any involvement in the traffic disruption, claiming she was in Mindanao at the time of the incident. The QCPD also apologized for the inconvenience of the traffic closure and blamed confusion and lapse in judgement of the cops involved.

The latest development comes amid the word war between the Duterte family and their critics. On Wednesday, October 25, Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte told ACT Teachers Representative France Castro not be “onion skinned” after she filed a complaint against his father, former president Duterte, over a public death threat.

The elder Duterte made the threat after the House of Representatives stripped five government agencies of their proposed confidential funds in the 2024 budget, including the Department of Education and Office of the Vice President, both led by his daughter. – Rappler.com

2 comments

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  1. ET

    Research on the backgrounds of all the Government Officials involved in this case, especially on who promoted or appointed them – may also be helpful.

  2. ET

    A case to watch. This case will give us insights about the Marcos Jr. Government’s Repression Machinery (in general) and that of the Duterte’s Repression Network (in particular).

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.