Romulo Rowenlo Bayron, the alleged administrator of news blog “The Bol-anon Chronicle” masquerading as The Bohol Chronicle was collared by a combined team from the Philippine National Police-Tagbilaran City Police Station (PNP-TCPS) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Thursday.
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Bayron, who is facing a three-count P33.5 million cyber libel case filed by Dauis Mayor Marietta T. Sumaylo was tailed by the PNP-TCPS and CIDG “Oplan Tracker” under the supervision of Police Lieutenant Colonel (P/LTCOL) Oscar T. Boyles, TCPS Acting Chief of Police following a tip that he was on his way to discuss his case with his lawyer and was nabbed right across Ramiro Hospital along Gallares St.
ORDER OF ARREST
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 48 Presiding Judge Jorge D. Cabalit issued the Order of Arrest on December 27, 2019, and the Warrant of Arrest on January 6, 2020 against Bayron setting bail for his temporary liberty at P48,000 each for three counts of violation of Online Libel as defined and penalized under sections 4 (c) (4) and 6 of Republic Act 10175 known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Bayron was detained at the TCPS custodial facility and was reportedly released on the same day at around 5:45 p.m. after Atty. DoniePiquero posted bail in the amount of almost P150,000 at P96,000 for criminal case nos. 23124 and 23125 and P48,000.00 for criminal case no. 23123 for his temporary liberty.
IGNORANT OF ACCUSATIONS
In an exclusive interview by the Chronicle at the investigation room of the TCPS, Bayron admitted that he was the favored designer of tarpaulins and printed materials during the administration of Mayor Dan Lim.
He categorically denied that, as alleged by Sumaylo he was the author of three articles that appeared in the “Bol-anon Chronicle” that smeared the reputation and shamed the family of the mayor.
“I don’t know the Mayor personally. I have no motive to write those articles since I am not a journalist. I am a graphic artist.”
When asked why he failed to appear at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on September 16, 2019 for a clarificatory hearing and the preliminary proceedings at the Provincial Prosecution Office, Bayron said: “I feared for my life since I was up against a powerful figure.”
Bayron requested the Chronicle to relay his plea for mercy since he has no knowledge of the accusations against him.
Upon learning of the arrest of Bayron, the mayor of Dauis said she will leave to the court the resolution of the case.
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 RowenloBayron 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.
Three 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.
The 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 which Sumaylo handily won against San Miguel Mayor Atty. Virgilio Mendez, a former NBI Director.
Just as it mysteriously appeared on Facebook months before the May 2019 elections, The Bol-anon Chronicle also mysteriously disappeared from Facebook two days after Sumaylo sought the assistance of the NBI which issued a subpoena to Bayron on September 13, 2019
The articles appeared on Facebook as the Bol-anon Chronicle, a copy-cat version of the Bohol Chronicle aping the bold Gothic print masthead of the 64-year-old weekly newspaper to lure naive readers.
Supporting her allegations were five witnesses including testimonies of three incumbent municipal mayors – Valencia Mayor Maria Katrina L. Lim, Catigbi-an Mayor Elizabeth M. Pace, and Guindulman Mayor Ma. Fe A. Piezas.
The three mayors executed affidavits denouncing the article as false regarding the vote-buying accusations while Sumaylo presented certifications from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) clearing her from any involvement of drug-related activity.
An eight-page complaint-affidavit was filed by Sumaylo before Provincial Prosecutor Macario I. Delusa, Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on September 20, 2019.
Delusa approved a Joint Resolution on November 15, 2019, that evidence submitted by Sumaylo through her counsel Lord “Popot” R. Marapao IV “is sufficient to establish probable cause against Bayron for violation of section 4 (c) (4) of Republic Act (RA) 10175 known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Nilda P. Villatima, Associate Provincial Prosecutor, in a six-page joint resolution stated that “we have reason to believe that herein respondent (Bayron) is responsible for the articles appearing in The Bol-anon Chronicle webpage that was posted in Facebook, on three (3) separate occasions. (Chito M. Visarra)