By Hannah Torregoza
Is it proper or legal?
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson raised this question on Thursday saying authorities should explain whether or not the arrest of the alleged uploader of the series of videos linking the family of President Rodrigo Duterte to illegal drugs was appropriate.
“The first question that needs to be answered is, is the arrest proper or legal? Because under the Revised Penal Code, alam naman natin ang warrantless arrests, actually committing, about to commit, has just committed. So papasok ba roon? (Does that qualify?),” Lacson said in an interview over ANC Headstart.
“ Unless he was arrested for violation of another crime and then he willingly subjected to preliminary investigation on this particular offense that he is known for, then the arrest could be considered proper. But without a proper legal basis for conducting the arrest dito kay ‘Bikoy,’ I think the DOJ or the NBI should explain why they arrested him,” Lacson stressed.
Lacson made the call after the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) cybercrime division announced the arrest of the uploader—not ‘Bikoy’—by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
‘Bikoy’ is the hooded narrator of the videos who described the members of the President’s family and senatorial candidate Christopher “Bong” Go alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Lacson, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said the arresting officer should have personal knowledge that the person has actually committed the offense.
Lacson, likewise, acknowledged that “Bikoy’s case is different from others whose reputations are destroyed online.
“ This is different because it is the First Family that is the subject of the allegation made by Bikoy. We know the President has all the resources under his disposal, so that makes it different because the President can mobilize the law enforcement agencies, the DOJ, and the other Cabinet. As we’ve seen, full force,” he pointed out.
Lacson, however, said it is premature to say whether there was abuse of discretion on the part of the government when the arrest was carried out.
“ We don’t know yet. Because we don’t know the circumstances of the arrest, what was the legal basis for the arrest. Until and unless we know that, the circumstances, then we (can’t?) conclude if there is abuse of power, or if there is illegal arrest involved,” he said.
“But if there’s none, then the preliminary investigation against ‘Bikoy’ should proceed and he should be brought to court as any ordinary offender,” he stressed.
He said ‘Bikoy’ was obviously not acting alone. “And Malacanang wants to unmask who are the people behind him,” the senator said.
“And that also arouses interest among us. Who are these people? Are these political personalities or are these destabilizers? Yan ang interest natin dito,” he said.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, an opposition stalwart and Liberal Party president, for his part, denied knowing ‘Bikoy.’
“I don’t know ‘Bikoy’, I don’t know who he is. But it’s possible they will point their fingers against the LP as the one behind ‘Bikoy’,” Pangilinan said in a Kapihan sa Senado forum.
But for now, my concern and focus is on our campaign,” said the ‘Otso Diretso’ senatorial slate’s campaign manager.
Pangilinan said he has no objections should lawmakers decide to investigate the allegations raised by the man.
“Let’s talk about ‘Bikoy’ after the May 13 elections. Please vote for our eight candidates and we assure you we can launch an investigation on this issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) over drug charges, questioned why the government is hell-bent on arresting ‘Bikoy’ and former policeman Eduardo Acierto, a suspect who has been hiding since he was implicated in the illegal drug shipment.
“Bakit ba pinag-iinitan nila si Acierto at ‘Bikoy’? Ano ang kinakatakutan nila? (Why are they after Acierto and ‘Bikoy’? What are they afraid of?” de Lima said in her latest statement.
“Dahil ba hawak siguro ni Acierto at ‘Bikoy’ ang katotohanan? Kasi, kung imbento lang yung mga exposé nila, bakit pinag-aaksayahan ng pera, pagod at panahon ng mga awtoridad ang dalawang ito? (Is it because Acierto and Bikoy knows the truth? Because if they invented these exposes, why would authorities waste funds, exert effort and time just to arrest these two?” she pointed out.
De Lima said such actuations should make people think and assess the situation carefully.
“ Magnilay-nilay po tayo sa mga nakakabahalang mga kaganapan na ito. Maging mapanuri. Maging alerto (Let’s reflect on these worrying events. Be critical. Be alert),” she said.