By Jeffrey Damicog
Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa said she will continue to do her job despite the legal cases she’s facing.
“We are not intimidated,” said Ressa who posted a P100,000 bail after spending the night in government detention.
Journalist Maria Ressa (C) is surrounded by the press as she is escorted by a National Bureau Investigation (NBI) agent (L) at the NBI headquarters after her arrest in Manila on February 13, 2019. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Ressa, whose online news website has published articles critical of the administration of President Duterte, was arrested Wednesday night by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the strength of an arrest warrant issued by Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 where she is facing a cyber libel complaint.
“No amount of legal cases, black propaganda, and lies can silence Filipino journalists who continue to hold the line,” she said in a statement. “These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail.”
The case stems from the complaint of businessman Wilfredo Keng regarding the May 29, 2012 online article written by former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. entitled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman”.
The article wrote that then Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a 2011 Chevrolet Subarban registered to Keng whom Santos described as “shady” and involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling, among others. At that time, Corona was facing an impeachment complaint.
Meanwhile, Keng expressed vindication over the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a cyber libel case against Ressa and Santos before the Manila RTC.
“Rappler, Ressa, and Santos continue to hold themselves high above any accountability to provide credible and justifiable reason for why they continue to harass an ordinary private citizen and businessman despite having absolutely no basis for their claims,” Keng said in a statement.
“If left unaccountable, Rappler, Ressa and Santos’ example of impunity will be emulated and replicated, and will destroy not just individual lives but our entire country,” he pointed out.
Keng lamented that “Rappler, Ressa, and Santos never attempted to obtain my side on the crimes they wrongly imputed to me or to fact-check their baseless attacks against my name.”
“I have never had a criminal record. For almost four decades since I started working, I have consistently secured official clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation certifying that I have never been involved in any criminal case and have never had any criminal history,” he pointed out.
Keng noted he even tried to formally and informally communicate with Rappler in order to have the article taken down, clear my name and restore my reputation, at least, to the extent possible given the fact that irreparable damage had already been done, multiplied a million-fold because Rappler’s website continues to be accessible by the whole world.”
“In turn, Rappler, likewise through formal and informal channels, repeatedly promised me that they will take down the subject article, but never did. The libelous attacks remain posted on their website until now,” he cited.