By Ria Fernandez
The camp of Rappler Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Ressa has asked Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 46 to dismiss the cyber-libel case filed against her and two other accused.
In the motion to quash filed on Tuesday, former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te and his colleagues from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) stressed that the information filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Rappler, Ressa, and former reporter Reynaldo Santos, Jr. have no basis.
For one, they argued that the prosecution misapplied the “multiple republications” principle as the change made on Feb. 19, 2014 to an article about businessman Wilfredo Keng lending Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona published in May 2012 was non-substantial.
“The update to the article consisted of the correction of a misspelled word from “evation” to “evasion”, with the “t” changed to “s”. Not a single sentence in the original post was changed,” they said.
Ressa’s lawyers also asserted that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) against the enforcement of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 existed at that time.
“During the duration of this TRO–Oct. 9, 2012 continuously until Apr. 22, 2014–there was effectively no RA 10175. That is the legal, practical, and actual effect of the Supreme Court’s TRO,” they said.
Moreover, they said that the one year period for prescription has already lapsed as the prosecution filed the case only in 2019 or five years after the alleged crime.
The defense requested the Court to set a hearing for the motion at 8:30 a.m. on Mar. 1, the same day Ressa’s arraignment was previously scheduled.