Rappler set to file counter-affidavit over cyberlibel raps

Published April 23, 2018, 2:58 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Jeffrey Damicog

Rappler editor-in-chief Maria Ressa and her co-respondents are set to respond on Wednesday to the cyberlibel complaint filed against them before the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding a published article about businessman Wilfredo Keng.

A guard opens a door at the office of Rappler in Pasig, Metro Manila, January 15, 2018. (REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao/File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
A guard opens a door at the office of Rappler in Pasig, Metro Manila, January 15, 2018. (REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao/File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senior State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog, who is handling the preliminary investigation of the case, had directed the respondents to file their counter-affidavits on Wednesday.

Dayog has already begun conducting the preliminary investigation over the case that was filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in March.

Aside from Ressa, those who have been named as respondents are former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. and Rappler directors Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atienza, and Dan Alber De Padua.

The respondents have been accused of committing libel under Section 4, paragraph (c), subparagraph (4) of Republic Act 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The case filed by the NBI stemmed from the complaint filed before it by Keng regarding an article titled “CJ using SUVs of ‘controversial’ businessmen” which was written by Santos and published by Rappler on May 29, 2012.

The story was published when then late Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona was still undergoing an impeachment trial.

The article reported that Corona has been found using in both official and unofficial functions a black Chevrolet Suburban, a sports utility vehicle (SUV) found owned by Keng.

The article cited that Keng is a Filipino-Chinese businessman named by Forbes Magazine as one of the richest Filipinos in 2010.

Aside from this, the story also cited an intelligence report that said Keng had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in illegal activities which include human trafficking and drug smuggling.

The story also said the report indicated that Keng is close to lawmakers and had contacts with the US embassy.

It added that the document also showed Keng was involved in a murder case for which he was never jailed as the article suspects that this could be connected to the death of Manila councilor Chika Go in 2002 where Keng had been identified as a mastermind.

The story also cited a a 2002 news report which said that Keng was also accused of smuggling fake cigarettes and granting special investors residence visas to Chinese nationals for a fee.