Complainant vs. Ressa says he’s ‘vindicated’ by court verdict

Published June 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Noreen Jazul 

Businessman Wilfredo Keng said he felt “vindicated” with the conviction of cyber libel against veteran journalist Maria Ressa.

Ressa and Santos were both found guilty of cyber libel by the Manila Regional Trial Court on June 15.

Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa has found Rappler’s Executive Editor and CEO Maria Ressa and its former researcher-writer Rey Santos Jr. guilty of violating Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act specifically for cyber libel. Ressa conducted a press briefing after the hearing. Photo by Jansen Romero
Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa has found Rappler’s Executive Editor and CEO Maria Ressa and its former researcher-writer Rey Santos Jr. guilty of violating Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act specifically for cyber libel. Ressa conducted a press briefing after the hearing. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I have been vindicated, at least, to the extent possible considering that the damage had already been done. Even today, when the truth should have set me free, Rappler’s lies still resound after the bang of the gavel has faded away,” Keng said in a statement.

Knowing that he had “done nothing to deserve false accusations” against him, Keng said he decided to pursue legal action against Ressa and her former researcher Reynaldo Santos, Jr.

“This is my bid to protect my name, and my sacrifice for my children and our future generations, who deserve nothing less than freedom in the form of absolute truth,” Keng said.

Keng said Ressa “with one click of a button, attempted to destroy” his name.

The businessman also hit Ressa for “portraying herself as an alleged defender of press freedom and as a purported target of the Philippine Government.”

“This in no way exempts her from respecting and following Philippine laws. If anything, being a public figure, mas malaki ang kaniyang responsibilidad na

magsabi ng totoo at sumunod sa batas (she has a bigger responsibility yo tell the truth and follow the law),” he said.

‘A private suit’

Keng underscored that his case against Ressa is “not a case of the government.”

“I am a private citizen and this is a private suit. I filed my complaint prior to and independently of any case the Philippine

government may have filed against Ressa,” he said.
case would have been closed sooner.

Keng also said that his case against Ressa was not a fight against the press freedom, which he “deeply respects and uphold.”

“For years, I have personally suffered from Rappler’s false accusations against me, which false accusations have no place in a responsible and free press. Indeed, it is an accepted legal principle that libel is not

protected speech,” he said.

In October 2017, Keng filed a complaint against the two for an online article written by Santos on May 29, 2012, titled “CJ using SUVs of controversial businessman,.”

In the article, Santos reported that Keng had a “shady past” and was tagged in human trafficking and drug smuggling activities. The businessman was also allegedly involved in the killing of Manila Councilor Chika Go in 2002. (With a report from Minka Tiangco)

READ MORE: Manila court convicts Ressa, former Rappler researcher of cyber libel

 
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