Ressa can say anything about gov’t — Roque

Published June 16, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

Rappler chief Maria Ressa has the right to say anything about the administration but should consider facing the court verdict that found her guilty of cyber libel, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Harry Roque (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Harry Roque (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reminded Ressa that she violated the law when she maligned the reputation of a private individual.

“The sentiments of Maria Ressa are understandable given her present state of mind as a result of the guilty verdict handed down by a Manila trial court,” he said.

“Ms. Ressa can speak and say whatever she wants against the current administration. It is her right. It is her freedom of expression. It goes to show that there is no stifling of free speech in the country and that democracy in the Philippines remains vibrant,” he said.

Roque however gave an unsolicited advice to Ressa following her cyber libel conviction.

“The private individual who Ms. Ressa besmirched simply exercised his right against abusive persons who wield power and influence, including journalists like Maria Ressa. In law as what we say, one’s freedom ends where someone else’s rights begins,” he said.

“Thus, I advise Ms. Ressa to just face the complaint/decision head-on,” he added.

A Manila regional trial court earlier found Ressa and former writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. guilty of cyber libel over an article that supposedly defamed a businessman. They were slapped with a prison sentence of up to six years and ordered to pay damages.

Shortly after her conviction, Ressa appealed to Filipinos, especially journalists, to protect their rights, saying her case was a cautionary tale to strike fear.

 
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