Teacher who posted about reward to 'kill Duterte' out on bail

Public school teacher Ronnel Mas was released on a P72,000 bail on Tuesday, May 19, after 8 days in detention for a social post on a P50-million reward to 'kill President Rodrigo Duterte.'

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72 issued Mas' release order on Tuesday, after he posted bail.

"Accordingly, the National Bureau of Investigation Manila is hereby ordered to release the accused unless detained for some other lawful cause," Presiding Judge Richard Paradeza said in his release order.

Mas is scheduled to be arraigned on May 28 before the same court. Pre-trial is also scheduled on the same day.

Mas will be tried for inciting to sedition. 

"This initial victory sends a powerful message that the seemingly absoulte power of a repressive regime can be and will be challenged by even the most ordinary Filipinos such as Teacher Ronnel," the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said in a statement  on Tuesday.

The group called the release a victory because lawyers had wanted to free Mas as early as Friday, May 15, when the prosecutor's ruling was handed down saying that the warrantless arrest of the teacher was invalid.

However in the same ruling, Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanenette Dacpano said that the defect of the warrantless arrest was cured by Mas' extrajudicial confession to members of the media.

The NBI refused to release Mas because of the ruling. 

Human rights lawyers slammed the ruling saying that an invalid warrantless arrest cannot be "cured" even if the confession is eventually accepted as evidence.

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te said the NBI agents who arrested Mas without a warrant are still liable for illegal detention.

The NBI has a crackdown on what it calls coronavirus-related fake news. In its operations, it has subpoenaed more than a dozen people for their social media posts, one of them a criticism of government spending during the pandemic. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.