Unfazed by the complexity of confronting a tormentor hiding in the world wide web, Dauis Mayor Marietta T. Sumaylo unmasked the phantom writer behind a series of articles that maligned, humiliated and shamed her as a public servant including her family.
Citing Supreme Court jurisprudence, Sumaylo through her counsel, Lord “Popot” R.Marapao IV said, “cybercriminals enjoy the advantage of anonymity, like wearing a mask during a heist.”
An eight-page complaint-affidavit was filed by Sumaylo before Provincial Prosecutor Macario I. Delusa, Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on September 20, 2019.
Sumaylo pointed at Romulo Rowenlo Bayron a.k.a. Rowenlo Bayron as the alleged perpetrator and is now facing a complaint for the crime of Online Libel on three counts as defined and penalized under sections 4 (c) (4) and 6 of Republic Act 10175 known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Sumaylo demanded from Bayron to indemnify her of moral damages in the amount of not less than P10 million for each count or a total of P30 million for her sleepless nights, loss of appetite, deep offense of honor, mental anguish and serious anxiety.
Furthermore, for the public good and to deter others from following such bad example set by Bayron, exemplary damages in the amount of not less than P1 million for each count was stipulated in the complaint.
For services of counsel, an acceptance fee of P300 thousand plus P5 thousand appearance fee per hearing was also specified in the complaint.
Bayron whose address was traced in Tagbilaran City is also charged with Libel under article 355 of the Revised Penal code.
Using the expertise of cybercrime forensic investigators, Sumaylo successfully recovered the web footprints of Bayron despite the meticulous cover-up of his online activities.
An obscure November 22, 2014, posted at 6:58 AM under the name of Rowenlo Bayron with a message “Hello Everyone!! Thanks for visiting my site!! –Aaliyah– led to the unmasking of Bayron as the publisher/blogger/developer of The Bol-anon Chronicle, according to cybercrime investigators.
Just as it mysteriously appeared on Facebook with an aped version of the bold gothic print of The Bohol Chronicle months before the May 2019 elections, The Bol-anon Chronicle also mysteriously disappeared from Facebook two days after Sumaylo sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation – Bohol District Office (NBI-BDO) which issued a subpoena to Bayron on September 13, 2019.
Apparently, Bayron deviously rode on the credibility of the 64-year-old weekly newspaper to lure naive followers of Facebook.
According to the NBI, the subpoena was received by the wife of Bayron in the address indicated in the complaint-affidavit of Sumaylo.
Bayron was a no-show in the scheduled face-off with Sumaylo at the NBI Office on September 16, 2019, but his lawyer, Atty. Roque A. Amante, Jr. was present.
Amante, a Cebu based lawyer is the perennial lawyer of former Mayor Dan Lim, who was also behind the birth of the defunct Sunday Post of the late publisher Boy Guingguing.
Three damaging articles headlined in The Bol-anon Chronicle – “Sumaylo Bribes Bohol Mayors?”, “Kwarta O Kahon? Money Prevails,” and “Dauis Mayor Dragged Into The Drug Problem Leading To The Elections,” were allegedly written by Bayron, according to Sumaylo.
These articles came out on August 11, 18 and 21, 2019, before and after the August 16, 2019 election for president of the League of Municipalities – Bohol Chapter.
Sumaylo handily won the presidency of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) – Bohol Chapter against San Miguel Mayor Atty. Virgilio L. Mendez, a former Director of the NBI by a winning margin of 23 votes – 34 over 11 with 45 mayors casting their votes by secret ballot.
The first article came out online at 8:51 PM five days before the LMP elections at the height of the campaign for the presidency weaving a story of a trip to Hongkong, P50 thousand cash and P5 million worth of projects dangled by Sumaylo in return for votes from the mayors.
The second article appeared on August 18, 2019, at 7:49 PM, two days after Sumaylo won the LMP presidency portraying her as” a student drop-out winning against an accomplished lawyer, an NBI Director and a whole lot of experience.”
Bayron wrote that “majority of the mayors chose Sumaylo who is alleged “drug friendly” over Mendez who promises an all-out war against drugs.”
The third article on August 21, 2019, posted at 11:09 AM resurrected Sumaylo’s connection with the drug trade and implicated her in the gruesome murder of Ryan Sigue in Barangay Booy, Tagbilaran City who was reportedly a member of the dreaded Alabang Boys as narrated in a prepared speech by Mayor Mendez.
The Provincial Prosecution Office is set to schedule the preliminary investigation of the cyber libel and libel complaints filed by Sumaylo. (Chito M. Visarra)