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Teacher refutes child abuse, fake news raps

MANILA, Philippines — A teacher who shared a video of a controversial traffic incident along Commonwealth Avenue filed a counter-affidavit before the Quezon City prosecutor’s office yesterday seeking to dismiss the criminal charges against him.

Janus Munar was accompanied by his lawyer, Chel Diokno, in filing the counter-affidavit after he was charged by Executive M/Sgt. Verdo Pantollano with violating Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes any person who publishes or causes to publish “false news which may endanger the public order or cause damage to the interest or credit of the state,” and child abuse in relation to the cybercrime prevention law.

“After going over the complaint-affidavit with my lawyer, I respectfully submit that it should be dismissed. The complaint-affidavit does not establish that any crimes were committed and that I did anything unlawful,” Munar said in his counter-affidavit.

The viral video showed motorists at a standstill due to the closure of a portion of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Pantollano said in the video that traffic had been stopped for the convoy of Vice President Sara Duterte.

“It is a blatant attempt to go after me for doing what millions of Filipinos do all the time on the internet – share photos and videos of public events, including those public officers performing their official duties – in ways that may adversely affect ordinary citizens,” Munar added.

Duterte’s camp said that the incident was caused by “confusion and lapse in judgment” of Pantollano, the police officer manning the traffic at that time.

The Office of the Vice President said that Duterte was in Mindanao for the observance of World Teachers’ Day when the incident took place.

Pantollano was reinstated after being relieved from his post.

According to the Quezon City Police District, Pantollano “misheard” that it was Duterte’s convoy they were securing, which he relayed to the video uploader, who asked for the VIP’s identity.

On Oct. 13, Pantollano filed the cases against Munar, saying the video caused his family and 13-year-old daughter “overwhelming trauma, psychological and emotional stress,” inducing fear and shame in going out of