A human rights advocate on Monday filed a criminal complaint against supporters of presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for harassing and bullying her online.
Renee Karunungan, a member of Dakila Philippine for Modern Heroism, filed a case for violation of the Revised Penal Code, Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Omnibus Election Code against up to 20 individuals.
Last March 22, Karunungan posted an anti-Duterte meme describing him as the “lazy choice” after the second presidential debate.
Her original post went viral, earning over 13,000 reactions and more than 4,000 shares, before it was taken down by Facebook over complaints from supporters of the presidential frontrunner.
“Obviously, the supporters were offended by it. A lot of them reported it and it was taken down. I was also blocked by Facebook for four days,” Karunungan recalled. After that, she said she received over 200 messages in her Facebook inbox, most of which contain threats.
She said the messages contains insults from “bobo ka,” “baboy ka,” “tanga,” to more serious ones such as actual threats of grave harm like “mamatay ka sana,” “ma-rape ka sana,” “ma-massacre sana pamilya mo.”
She documented the threats by screen grabbing them and compiling them in an album.
“My rights offline are the same as my rights online. There is a difference between freedom of speech and speech that incites violence. It is time that people know the difference. We should not condone violence especially on the basis of political views. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and is a threat to our democracy and violates our basic rights,” Karunungan said at a press conference.
“We need to start relearning civility in public discourse and respect for the opinion of others,” she added.
Her counsel, Atty. Jose Jesus Disini Jr., said the Facebook users who threatened Karunungan should be held criminally liable for their actions.
“Under the Revised Penal Code, it is considered grave threat when you threat somebody of physical harm. In this case, there’s threat of rape, threat of physical injury. And because it’s done online, it’s also cybercrime under section 6 of the law,” he said.
Some of the Facebook users, Disini said have already been identified.
He said they sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to identify the other users who threatened Karunungan.