DOJ: Teacher Who got Arrested Because of His Joke About the President Is an Invalid Arrest

Public school teacher Ronnel Mas could have been absolved of charges if he did not admit the crime to members of media when the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested him for allegedly offering P50 million to anyone who could kill President Duterte, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a seven-page resolution, the DOJ said yesterday it found probable cause to file charges of inciting to sedition in relation to the anti-cybercrime law against Mas. The DOJ deferred the investigation and resolution of the charge of violating the code of conduct and ethical standards for public employees against Mas, instead referring the case to the Civil Service Commission.

A warrantless arrest is valid when the crime has just been committed and the arresting officer has probable cause to believe, based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances, that the person to be arrested has committed it, according to the DOJ. Mas was arrested six days after making the controversial tweet on May 5, the DOJ stressed, adding that the arresting officers had no idea that Mas committed the crime.

“Be that as it may, the defect of Mas’s warrantless arrest was ultimately cured when Mas extrajudicially admitted to the media that he indeed personally posted the provocative text in his Twitter account @RonPrince_,” the DOJ said.

In his interviews, Mas said he was just trying to make fun of Duterte’s offer of a P50 million reward for whoever discovers a vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 and to get people’s attention.

“Sobrang mali po yung ginawa ko. Humihingi ako ng tawad sa ating Pangulo (What I did was so wrong. I am asking for forgiveness from our President),” the DOJ resolution quoted him as saying.

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