MANILA, Philippines — An environmental advocate who allegedly received threats from some supporters of presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte filed an election offense case before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday.
Renee Karunungan of DAKILA, a non-governmental organization, who filed the case against 20 supporters of the presidential bet, claimed she has been bullied on cyberspace after expressing opposition to Duterte’s candidacy.
She said the messages from the supporters of the Davao City mayor range from insults like “Bobo ka,” “Baboy ka,” “Tanga,” “Mamatay ka na sana,” “Ma-rape ka sana,” and “Ma-massacre sana pamilya mo.”
“Online threats of murder, rape, serious physical injuries are no laughing matter. These constitute crimes under the Revised Penal Code, Cybercrime Law and the Omnibus Election Code. These kinds of criminal behavior need to stop. For these reasons, I have decided to file criminal cases against those who have sent me threats,” Karunungan said in a statement.
She said the threats started after she posted on her Facebook account a meme saying, “Duterte is a lazy choice” last March 22.
“My rights offline are the same as my rights online. There is a difference between freedom of speech and speech that incites violence. It is time that people know that difference. We should not condone violence, especially on the basis of political views. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and is a threat to our democracy and violates our basic rights,” she added.
Named respondents in the case were: Dexter Pascual, Nicolas Marco M. Macatangay, Romel Tico, Xyra Jay Batiol, Prince Winrom Baldado, Mamai Mercolita, Delimah Villanueva, Sharmain Lopez, Heinrich Chu, Mine Ordonez, Margaret Shane Penaranda, Norman Batang, Reygene Hernandez Congzon, Aya Comeso, Angel Sioson, Malea Sosonairos Siotam, Brat Aguilario Ardina, Grascha Shadaph Roa, Rommel Bauzon, and Hermes Luayon.
According to Atty. JJ Disini, counsel for the complainant, aside from the election offense case, Karunungan also filed criminal grave charges before the Department of Justice for grave threats and violation of Sections 6 and 7 of the Cybercrime Law.
“Certainly, the Constitution protects the freedom of all citizens to engage in debates and discussions involving their political views. But free speech does not allow people to commit crimes against each other,” he said.
The lawyer added that the cases are not against any candidates but serve as a reminder for people to respect the rights of people to free speech.
“We should as a society encourage sober online and off-line discussions about important issues such as the choice of who will lead the country. We do not wish to punish any candidate’s supporters but to remind our citizens as they play their role in the political arena, they should not cross the line into committing crimes,” Disini said. PNA/northboundasia.com