Manila court issues guidelines for Ressa, Santos promulgation in cyberlibel case

By Joseph Almer Pedrajas

A Manila court has issued guidelines for the promulgation of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and her co-defendant, former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr., in a cyberlibel case filed against them.

Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 released a notice dated June 4, which contains the safety quarantine protocols that the attendees, particularly the prosecutors, the defendants and media, should observe amid threats of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to the court, only one public prosecutor, one representative from each of the three private law firms of the prosecution and the complainant will be allowed in the part of the prosecution.

Meanwhile, for the defense, only one counsel and the two accused will be allowed.

For the media covering the promulgation, only three members will be able to get inside "considering the limited space of the court and to observe social/physical distancing," the court said.

No cameras shall be allowed inside the court premises and the rest shall stay outside the building as the local government of Manila prohibits mass gathering along the corridors.

The promulgation is set at 8:30 a.m. of June 15. Ressa and Santos' case stemmed from a complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng regarding an article titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman," which was written by Santos on May 29, 2012.

The common safety measures shall also be strictly observed, according to the court, including wearing of face masks, disinfection upon entry of the court, attendees' registration for possible contact tracing and prohibiting those with a body temperature above 35.5 degrees Celsius.