By Martin Sadongdong and Marjaleen Ramos
After supposedly posting a bomb scare in his social media account, blogger Drew Olivar apologized to the public on Saturday. However, he may face charges for his behavior.
In a Facebook post on September 20, Olivar wrote: “Ayyy nakakatakot naman magRALLY sa EDSA, kasi may kumakalat na baka maulit daw yung pagbomba kagaya ng PLAZA MIRANDA!! [K]ung ako sa inyo hindi na ako pupunta!! (Participating in a rally in EDSA is frightening because there are reports of a bomb attack just like what happened in Plaza Miranda!! If I were you, I wouldn’t go!)”
The post was already made private or taken down.
But Philippine National Police National Capital Region Police Office Chief Guillermo Eleazar, in a press briefing on Saturday said, “Blogger Drew Olivar may have committed a violation of Presidential Decree 1727.”
“I consider the bomb threat the blogger posted not yet validated,” Eleazar said. “An unvalidated report must first be sent to authorities.”
The Metro Manila police chief reminded the public to be responsible enough to not use social media to forward unvalidated reports.
He added that the blogger’s case will pass through the Office of the Civil Prosecutor and assured that there will be no special treatment for Olivar.
Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson was also present during the press conference, but she told media, “I was not aware of blogger Drew Olivar’s post,” adding that she will wait for the Office of the Civil Prosecutor’s decision on Olivar’s case.
“Kaya idinulog na agad natin kung may nalabag na batas si Drew para mabigyang-linaw sa social media users na maging mas maingat sa pagpopost ng information,” she said.
Presidential Decree 1727 or the Anti-Bomb Joke law declares as unlawful the malicious dissemination of false information or the willful making of any threat concerning bombs, explosives or any similar device or means of destruction, and imposes the penalties for it.
If proven guilty, an offender may be jailed up to five years and/or a penalty of up to P40,000 may be imposed by the court.
As for Olivar’s case, Eleazar said he will have to get the blogger’s official statement on the matter first as part of the investigation.
“We will get his statement regarding the matter. We will verify some of the things from him so we can check kung merong (if there is a) violation ng (of) appropriate laws regarding what he has done,” he said.
The NCRPO chief also took the time to lecture not only Olivar but also other social media users to be responsible enough in the cyberspace. He said that aside from the Anti-Bomb Joke Law, the case could also be possibly connected to violation of the Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 since the platform used by Olivar in the commission of the alleged crime was information and communications technology (ICT).
Eleazar said that in the event that an individual receives a report regarding a threat, like a bomb threat, it should immediately be reported to authorities for validation.
“Ang point kasi natin dito, hindi dapat ang netizen ang nagpapakalat sa cyberspace. It should be reported to us dahil pwedeng mag-create ng panakot. Well, maaring may reason in good faith but just the same, sa ibang pagkakataon hindi nagiging maganda ang resulta,” he said.
Eleazar, however, warned that even if Olivar wrote the post in good faith, it would not be given much weight in the investigation.
“Hindi natin masyadong binibgyan ng weight ‘yun. Sa atin kasi ‘yung elements. If ever makakuha tayo ng evidence that warrants the filing of a case, we will refer the case to the office of the city prosecutor. Dadaan naman ‘yan sa office of city prosecutor to evaluate these things,” he explained.
Are there any liabilities also on the part of the social media users who liked, left a comment and shared Olivar’s post?
Eleazar said that if there is a crime committed, technically they are also liable under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. However, the problem is if it was shared by a lot of people.
“Basically, kung merong krimen, may liability na. According to Cybercrime Prevention Act, kung ginamit yung ICT, merong one degree higher of penalty at pwede isama sa kaso. Hypothetically, pwedeng gawin ‘yun,” he said.
“Ang magiging problema, you can just imagine kung shared by millions. Can we file cases against these millions? Medyo unrealistic naman. It has to be studied para palakasin yung batas on cybercrime. Sa ngayon yung pinagsimulan muna,” he explained.
With this, Eleazar hopes that Olivar’s case would be a lesson to all social media users to be responsible or risk getting into trouble.
“May this serve as a lesson to others, itong nangyaring ito kay Drew. Ang dami naming nare-receive na bomb threat at lahat ‘yon inaaksyunan namin. Salamat sa Diyos hindi totoo. The point is we are wasting time, energy and resources of the government,” he emphasized.
“Nananawagan tayo sa mga kababayan natin na kung kayo ay walang magawang mabuti para sa ating bansa ay huwag kayong maging perwisyo. Maging responsible kayo sa paggamit ng social media,” he added.
(May Drew’s case serves as a lesson to others. We are receiving a lot of bomb threats and we are putting action on all of it. Thank God and some of them are not true. The point is we are wasting time, energy and resources of the government.)
(We are appealing to the public that if you have nothing good to offer for our country, at least don’t add to the problems. Be responsible enough in using social media.)
The post was made a day before a united people’s march set on Friday for the commemoration of the 46th year anniversary of the declaration of the martial law. Several hundreds to thousands were expected to attend the protest that would culminate at the Rizal Park. Police reported that the protests were relatively peaceful.
This was not the first time that Olivar was embroiled in a controversy. In early August, the blogger made a lewd dance about federalism in Uson’s Facebook live video. Just recently, the duo made fun of the deaf community with Olivar making gestures that drew flak from persons with disability and institutions such as universities asking for Uson’s dismissal from government.