Upon advice of counsel, Ms. Victoria Beltran had temporarily taken down the post characterized by the Hon. Mayor Edgar Labella as fake news and violative of our laws.
There was no intent to spread confusion and fear by the posting of the said post. We hold that prosecution of any person under Sec. 6(f) of Republic Act No. 11469 can only occur when the post is “clearly geared to promote chaos, anarchy, fear, or confusion”. Even an ordinary person without the benefit of being exposed to the finer qualities of literature would understand Ms. Beltran’s post as satirical, designed to show wit instead of spreading chaos, anarchy, fear, or confusion.
We decry Mr. Mayor’s threat to involve the PNP Cybercrime Unit, and his reference to a warrantless arrest, which we believe is not proper under the circumstances. The characterization of the post as a criminal act does not make it a criminal act. There is no crime to speak of therefore. The rationale behind warrantless arrest is to maintain public order by allowing law enforcers to there and then place under the custody of the law the supposed malefactor. There is no loss to public order by a regular filing for preliminary investigation instead of a warrantless arrest. The threat of the mayor of a warrantless arrest sends a chilling effect to everyone else on social media, including those who are not happy with the way he had handled this crisis on behalf of the people of Cebu City who had given him mandate to lead. If he wants to truly maintain his logic, he should order the arrest of the former mayor who accused him of overpricing some items which is a truly libelous act if false and published without good motive, and not on Ms. Beltran, who is a simple citizen with lots of time on her hand due to the forced staying at home brought by this pandemic.
But seriously, there are a lot of more important things that the Honorable Mayor should focus on, instead of Ms. Beltran’s posts. The people of Cebu City expects him to lead decisively by making sure that we have the virus contained, not focus on pettiness.
Should the Honorable Mayor decide to continue with a clearly invalid warrantless arrest, we would have no choice but to file the necessary countercharges, including asking for dismissal from service those law enforcers who would execute a clearly invalid and illegal order. Nevertheless, we welcome any complaint filed through regular preliminary investigation. Subpoena should be addressed to:
MARIA VICTORIA BELTRAN
c/o Atty. Vincent S. Isles
Suite 3E, JL Bldg., Don Jose Avila St.
6000 Cebu City
NOTE: The address indicated above is not anymore my address. Please see the Contact/Visit/Consult page.