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.
“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)