The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has arrested a public school teacher who allegedly posted on Twitter an offer of a P50-million reward to anyone who could kill President Rodrigo Duterte.
NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin confirmed the development and said the 25-year-old suspect is set to undergo inquest proceedings. He said the case is with the bureau's office in Dagupan.
The NBI later identified the suspect as Ronnel Mas, a social studies teacher at Taltal National High School.
He was brought to the NBI's office in Manila and will be presented for inquest at the Department of Justice for charges of inciting to sedition in relation to the anti-cybercrime law, as well as for an alleged violation of the Code of the Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.
The bureau said the case against Mas stemmed from his tweet that said: "I will give P50 million reward kung sino makakapatay kay Duterte."
Operatives in Dagupan started tracking his location by tracing the links of the comments on his tweet, coordinated with barangay officials, and eventually arrested him in Barangay Poblacion North in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, the NBI said in a press statement.
In her report on Dobol B sa News TV, Super Radyo dzBB's Isa Avendaño-Umali said the suspect was emotional and has apologized to the NBI and to Duterte for his controversial May 5 tweet.
The suspect's father has likewise appealed to Duterte to forgive his son.
PANOORIN: Ama ni Ronnel Mas, nakikiusap kay Pang. Duterte at sa publiko na patawarin na ang kanyang anak sa nagawa nitong pagkakamali.— Isa Avendaño-Umali (@Isa_Umali) May 12, 2020
Noong May 5, ipinost ni Mas sa kanyang Twitter account ang banta. Ang kanyang rason, para umano magpasikat. @dzbb pic.twitter.com/3Mn75TO0Sj
NBI Director Eric Distor said the NBI is "serious in carrying out its mandate to pursue cases involving threats to security or assaults against the person of the President as well as of the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court," pursuant to the NBI Reorganization and Modernization Act.
Sought for comment, Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace is leaving it to the authorities to decide on the matter.
"Kung merong prima facie case for any case, kasuhan siya," Roque said in a televised briefing.
Roque, a lawyer, also said the suspect will have a chance to defend his innocence at the proper venue.
"Mabibigyan naman po siya ng pagkakataon na patunayan na hindi siya nagkasala sa ating hukuman sa takdang panahon," he said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also said he will leave the matter to the investigating prosecutor.
"However, apology is not one of the grounds for extinguishing criminal liability. I cannot feloniously injure another and get away with it by merely saying 'sorry,'" he said in a message to reporters.--Nicole-Ann C. Lagrimas and Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News