Lawyer faces raps for ‘mocking’ Comelec commissioner on Twitter

A Manila-based lawyer is facing charges for “mocking” Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of the Commission on Elections in his Twitter account.

The Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office has found probable cause to file a cyber unjust vexation case against Ferdinand Topacio.

Guanzon, a Negrense, filed the complaint against Topacio on June 23, 2020, before the Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office but Topacio sought its transfer because of perceived partiality. The complaint was reassigned to the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office and raffled off to Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Adri Anne T. Montes-Española.

Española on May 12 recommended the filing of the charges against Topacio for cyber unjust vexation under Article 287, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Section 73 of Republic Act 10951 and in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 , which was approved by Iloilo City Prosecutor Peter Baliao.

Guanzon said she received a copy of the decision only on June 25.

Unjust vexation is defined by the Supreme Court as any human conduct , without violence, that unjustly annoys an innocent person, Española said.

Guanzon in her complaint alleged that Topacio committed several counts of cyber unjust vexation against her through the Internet site Twitter.

She said Topacio launched in his Twitter account a “meme-making contest” with Guanzon, whom he referred to as “Commishunga,” as the subject of the meme and offered a cash prize of P5,000 for the winner and P3,000 as second prize.

Several of Topacio’s followers and Twitter users posted memes with Guanzon’s pictures , “mockingly throwing shade against complainant.” Topacio then retweeted the meme entries to his followers, Guanzon’s complaint said.

Topacio awarded the first prize to a meme composed of Guanzon’s pictures with captions calling her numerous names.

Guanzon alleged that Topacio‘s actuations served no legal or meaningful purpose but were calculated to ruin her reputation and honor, and incite hate and disrespect against her.

The prosecutor found probable cause to charge Topacio with unjust vexation committed by means or by use of information and communications technology.

The respondent’s series of acts arose from a single criminal intent to vex and annoy Guanzon hence only one count of unjust vexation can be charged against him, the prosecutor added.

The resolution is not a pronouncement of Topacio’s guilt that is yet to be followed by a trial proper, the prosecutor said.

Guanzon, who posted the dispositive portion of the resolution in her Twitter account, said “Guess who will get a warrant of arrest soon.”*

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