Police acted on 'good reason' in arresting online critics of Duterte – PNP

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PNP Spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac (L) and salesman Reynaldo Orcullo arrested for his anti-Duterte post (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – The Philippine National Police respects the decision of police units to arrest several netizens who criticized President Rodrigo Duterte on social media, spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac said Friday.

At least four people from all over the country have been accosted by police for online posts offering a bounty for anyone who can kill Duterte, as well as a post questioning the President's former aide now Senator Christopher "Bong" Go's pervasive presence in Malacañang.

"The police conduct themselves based on evidence gathered. We presume there was regularity in their act. Every time they would perform their duty, they would have to explain themselves before the court also," Banac told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"If found that they have violated rules, then they would have to face consequences of their act. As always, the police conduct themselves in a normal fashion," he added.

A teacher in Zambales, a habal-habal driver in Boracay, and a 26-year-old woman in Cebu have been nabbed for their social media posts, with police charging them with cybercrime and sedition complaints.

On Wednesday, authorities also arrested salesman Reynaldo Orcullo in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte for his post against Go and Duterte. He said Go would always make a "scripted request" to the President regarding national issues, while he described the Duterte as stupid and crazy.

Asked what the man's violations were since he did not ask for Duterte's head like other posts, Banac said: "There could have been other statements that became the reason for the police to take this person into custody."

"I’m sure the police acted on a good reason why they took this person into custody. This person would have to face charges," the PNP official added.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno questioned the PNP's moves, saying crimes like libel prohibit warrantless arrests, especially with freedom of speech provided by the Constitution.

Duterte himself has thrown damaging rants and expletives against certain individuals during his televised public speeches.

Caraga regional police chief BGen Joselito Esquivel Jr. earlier said in a statement that people should "think thrice" before posting online and check if their posts violate any laws.