Arrest of teacher
over online post, an overkill, shows selective law enforcement
ACT Press Release
May 13, 2020
QUEZON CITY - The
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines denounced the
arrest of public school teacher Ronnel Mas due to an allegedly
seditious social media post against the President, which the group
argued did not merit such harsh measures from the NBI owing to the
clear improbability of the alleged threat in the assailed post. In
the now deleted tweet, Mas offered a P50 million bounty for anyone
who will kill President Duterte.
"Teachers' dire economic
state is no secret to the people, especially to the government.
25-year old Teacher Ronnel obviously does not have P50 million to
pay as bounty hence his post clearly does not pose any serious
threat to the President. Why then did the NBI spend valuable time
and resources to apprehend this teacher?" raised ACT Secretary
General Raymond Basilio.
Mas is a Social Studies
teacher in Taltal National High School, Zambales and was awarded 3rd
place as 2019 Outstanding Secondary Teacher in the province.
ACT noted Mas to be the
3rd teacher who was arrested during the quarantine period for airing
out their disappointments and frustrations over the government's
faulty response to the COVID-19 crisis.
More baffling for the
teachers' federation is the prevalence of even more violent and
disturbing posts and pronouncements by Duterte supporters and even
government officials against critics of the administration which had
not been met with the same aggressive response from law enforcers.
The group cited the President's various official media pressers
where he called on authorities to commit murder and rape, among
others, against critics, oppositions, and anyone else deemed as
enemies of the administration. This is later echoed by online trolls
as well as by officials like DFA Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. who was
recently in hot waters for saying that the Bagong Alyansang
Makabayan (BAYAN) shall be shot to death as he alleged the group to
"It is therefore clear
that this is not a matter of implementing the law down to the last
letter, but a selective imposition depending on the powers-that-be's
prerogatives. It is an issue of repression and punitive actions
against dissenters and sentiments that may be seen as
'anti-government.' This is an attack on free speech, on democracy.
This is an attempt to sow fear among the people, to dissuade them to
speak up about their situation and convictions," criticized Basilio.
ACT further lambasted the
government for its 'consistent weaponization of the law' to silence
critics while launching a 'massive disinformation campaign.' Such
widespread malpractice of state forces earns them a new title – from
law enforcers to law abusers.
"We call on fellow
defenders of democracy to resist all attempts to trample on our
rights and freedoms. Free Teacher Ronnel!" called Basilio.
Mas is the fifth teacher
to have been accosted during the enhanced community quarantine. The
first ones were Teachers Juliet and Eli Espiñosa of General Santos
City, followed by Teacher Dale Gregory Medins on Las Piñas City,
then Teacher Edison Carsera of Norzagaray.