Court dismisses inciting to sedition charge against teacher

A COURT in Olongapo City dismissed the inciting to sedition charge against a teacher who was arrested for a social media post offering a P50-million reward to anyone who kills President Rodrigo R. Duterte. In a 15-page decision, Judge Richard A. Paradeza granted the motion to quash of Ronnel A. Mas, saying the court is “stripped of any jurisdiction” due to the unlawful warrantless arrest of the suspect. “As there is apparent deprivation of the constitutional rights of accused Mas in this case, particularly the legality of his arrest, this court did not acquire jurisdiction over his person,” the ruling said. The National Bureau of Investigation in Dagupan, the judge said, “had no personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances that the person to be arrested has indeed committed the crime” at the time of the arrest. The Department of Justice resolved that Mr. Mas’ arrest was illegal but indicted him of inciting to sedition based on his confession to the media. The court said extrajudicial confessions must conform to constitutional requirements to be admissible as evidence. “In our criminal justice system, the extrajudicial confession has no probative value as it was taken without competent and independent counsel present to assist the appellant. Verbal admissions made without the assistance of counsel are inadmissible,” the decision reads. The judge acknowledged that the social media post is “despicable and provocative” and those who post such should be made liable, but without compromising constitutional rights. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Senator seeks inquiry on fake PWD cards


SENATOR JUAN Edgardo M. Angara on Thursday sought an inquiry on the issuance of identification cards for persons with disability (PWD) following reports that “fake” ones have been acquired to benefit from the 20% discount. “We need to tighten up the process involved in issuing these cards so that only legitimate PWDs will enjoy the benefits under the law,” Mr. Angara said in a statement as he filed Senate Resolution No. 455. Under Republic Act No. 10754, PWDs are entitled to at least 20% discount and exemption from value-added tax on certain goods and services such as medicines, movie tickets, transport fares, and medical services. The Department of Trade and Industry, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, is now investigating recent reports that an entire family acquired PWD cards to take advantage of the benefits. “The exploitation on the use of the benefits and privileges specifically intended to help alleviate any financial burden encountered by PWDs should not be tolerated especially at this time when establishments like restaurants, entertainment centers and hotels are still struggling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Angara said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan