Filipino gets four months' jail for inflammatory posts

Ed Mundsel Bello Ello intended to agitate and infuriate readers, said the judge.
Ed Mundsel Bello Ello intended to agitate and infuriate readers, said the judge. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A district judge, who yesterday sentenced a Filipino national to four months' jail for his extremely provocative and inflammatory comments online, said a clear and unequivocal signal has to be sent that such offences will be met with the full brunt of the law .

District Judge Siva Shanmugam said that, in a nation whose only resource is its people, any act which poses a threat to its social stability and security cannot be condoned .

He said Ed Mundsel Bello Ello's comments had the potential to harm relations between Singaporeans and Filipinos in Singapore.

The 29-year-old former assistant nurse's comments may already have affected many people adversely, as is evident from the ensuing public disquiet and impassioned responses, he said. If left unchecked, Ello's provocative conduct could result in discrimination against the innocent and law-abiding minority Filipino residents here.

The judge said Ello intended to agitate and infuriate readers.

He had two Facebook accounts - one under the name Edz Ello and the other under an alias, Lee Andrew Hng.

On Jan 2, he posted as Edz Ello on the The Real Singapore's Facebook page. He said Singaporeans were losers, that Filipinos were better and stronger than Singaporeans, and that Filipinos would evict Singaporeans as well as take over their jobs, women and future.

In another post that evening, he affirmed that Filipinos would evict Singaporeans and that Singapore would be a new Filipino state.

Many aggrieved Singaporeans felt offended and lodged police reports against him. The comments also attracted hundreds of replies, many of which involved racial slurs.

Ello pleaded guilty to one of two Sedition Act charges, as well as two of three counts of lying to the police.

The court heard that he had been making many vile, derogatory and offensive posts on issues of race and nationality since the middle of last year.

Alarmed by the hostility generated by his comments on Jan 2, Ello deleted them later that evening. But they had gone viral and were republished elsewhere online.

When he realised that netizens had uncovered his identity, he took steps to avoid blame for the posts .

Among other things, he lied to the police that his Facebook account had been hacked and the posts had been made by someone else.

In a statement, the Ministry of Manpower said it takes a serious view of work-pass holders who do not comply with Singapore laws. Foreigners who are convicted and sentenced to jail will have their work passes revoked and be barred permanently from working in Singapore.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2015, with the headline Filipino gets four months' jail for inflammatory posts. Subscribe