Artist-writer charged over Facebook post about Sitio Zapatera

THE Regional Intelligence Division (RID 7) and Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (Racu 7) filed three complaints against multimedia artist and writer Maria Victoria Beltran at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office on Monday, April 20, 2020.

According to lawyer Vincent Isles, legal counsel of Beltran, the cases against his client are: violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012, punishable by up to six years of imprisonment with bail at P36,000; violation of Section 6(f) of R.A. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, punishable by up to two months of imprisonment with bail of P3,000; and violation of Section 9 (b) of R.A. 11332 of the law on mandatory reporting of certain diseases, punishable by up to six months of imprisonment with bail of P3,000.

As of April 20, Isles said Beltran is in the custody of the Police Regional Office (PRO 7) as her camp was not able to post bail due to the courts’ reduced operating hours.

During the inquest proceeding, the prosecutor found enough evidence to elevate the complaints against Beltran to court for a full-blown trial. The charges will be endorsed to court on Tuesday, April 21, and Beltran is expected to post bail on the same day.

Benjamin Militar, another lawyer of Beltran, welcomes the development that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will file the complaints at the Prosecutor’s Office.

“That’s good because the full facts of the case will be ventilated in a court proceeding,” said Militar.

Beltran was arrested without a warrant in a joint operation of RID 7 and Racu 7 on April 19 after being accused of spreading “fake news.”

Militar said there was no basis for Beltran’s warrantless arrest.

Isles also said the warrantless arrest was invalid.

Beltran, a Cebuano entrepreneur and writer, posted in her Facebook account a “satirical” status that there are now more than 9,000 new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Cebu City.

“9,000+ new cases (all from Zapatera) of Covid-19 in Cebu City in one day. We are now the epicenter in the whole solar system,” wrote Beltran on her Facebook post.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, who posted a screenshot of the Facebook post of Beltran on his Facebook page, said he will now let the police authorities handle the case.

Labella advised the PNP to follow due process and let Beltran practice her constitutional right. (JJL)


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