Rappler’s Maria Ressa, writer found guilty of cyber libel; ABS-CBN broadcasters react

by Jet Hitosis
Jun 15, 2020
Veteran broadcast journalists Ces Drilon (left) and Karen Davila (right) stand with Rappler CEO-Executive Editor Maria Ressa (center). On Monday, June 15, Ressa and a former Rappler writer were found guilty of cyber libel charges stemming from a 2012 investigative report involving businessman Wilfredo Keng.
PHOTO/S: @cesdrilon, @iamkarendavila on Instagram, PEP file

“It’s not unexpected but we’ll keep fighting.”

Ito ang pinanindigan ni Rappler Executive Editor-CEO Maria Ressa matapos siyang hatulang guilty sa paglabag sa cyber libel, ngayong Lunes ng umaga, June 15.

Bukod kay Ressa, 56, convicted din sa parehong kaso ang dating researcher-writer ng Rappler na si Reynaldo Santos Jr.

Sina Ressa at Santos ang mga unang miyembro ng media na nahatulan sa paglabag sa cyber libel.

Ang cyber libel ay nakapaloob sa Republic Act 10175 o ang Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Sinentensiyahan ni Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa sina Ressa at Santos ng anim na buwan hanggang anim na taong pagkakakulong.

Pero hindi makukulong sina Ressa at Santos dahil nakapagpiyansa na sila sa nabanggit na kaso.

February 13, 2019 nang arestuhin si Ressa ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) sa cyber libel case.

Pinalaya siya kinabukasan matapos magpiyansa ng PHP100,000.

Samantala, pinagbabayad din sina Ressa at Santos ng PHP200,000 halaga ng moral damages at PHP200,000 exemplary damages sa negosyanteng si Wilfredo Keng.

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DEVASTATED RESSA APPEALS TO JOURNALISTS, THE PUBLIC

Sa press conference matapos ibaba ng korte ang hatol, sinabi ni Ressa na “devastating” pero “not unexpected” ang guilty verdict sa kanya.

“The decision for me is devastating because it essentially says that Rappler… that we are wrong,” ani Ressa.

“It’s not unexpected but we’ll keep fighting.”

Dagdag ni Ressa: “It’s not unexpected considering that we are going to stand up against any kinds of attacks against press freedom.”

Kasabay nito, umapela si Ressa sa iba pang mamamahayag at sa mga Pilipino na huwag matakot ipaglaban ang kanilang mga karapatan.

Giit niya, sa pamamagitan ng kaso niya at ng Rappler, hangad daw ng gobyerno na magdulot ng takot at pangamba sa mga kumokontra sa administrasyon.

Pero mahalaga raw na protektahan at ipaglaban ng bawat Pilipino ang kanilang mga karapatan.

“I appeal to you, the journalists in this room, the Filipinos who are listening, to protect your rights.

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“We are meant to be a cautionary tale.

“We are meant to make you afraid.

“I appeal again, don’t be afraid.

“Because if you don’t use your rights, you will lose them.

“We shouldn’t be voluntarily giving up our rights.”

Sinabi pa ni Ressa kung gaano kahalaga ang press freedom upang mapanatiling protektado ang human rights.

Sabi ni Ressa: “Freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right you have as a Filipino citizen.

“If we can’t do our job, then your rights will be lost.”

CES AND KAREN STAND WITH RESSA

Gaya ni Ressa, nagpahayag ng pangamba ang beteranong ABS-CBN broadcast journalists na sina Ces Drilon at Karen Davila na nalalagay ngayon sa alanganin ang press freedom.

Sa isang tweet ngayong Lunes ng umaga, sinabi ni Ces na may “serious implications” sa lahat ng mamamahayag sa bansa ang hatol sa Rappler founder.

Tweet ni Ces: “The verdict will affect all of us.

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“It will have serious implications for Filipino journalists. #Istandwithmariaressa”

Nangangamba naman si Karen na ang conviction ni Ressa ay maging hudyat para mas madaling kasuhan ng cyber libel ang sinumang Filipino journalists.

Bukod dito, mas lalakas din daw ang loob ng Internet trolls, ayon sa Kapamilya broadcaster.

Post ni Karen sa Twitter: “The verdict opens the floodgates for senseless cyberlibel cases against journalists.

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“Instead, it encourages undergound faceless trolling even more.

“#mariaressa #IStandWithMariaRessa #DefendPressFeedom”

Kinondena ng Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) ang hatol kina Ressa at Santos.

Isa raw itong "menacing blow" sa press freedom sa Pilipinas.

“It’s a menacing blow to press freedom in the Philippines and adds a new weapon in a growing legal arsenal against constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties in an Asian outpost of democracy,” saad sa official statement ng FOCAP.

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THE RAPPLER INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

Nag-ugat ang cyber libel case sa investigative report na isinulat ni Santos noong May 29, 2012.

Nakasaad sa artikulo na ipinagamit diumano ni Keng ang kanyang sports utility vehicle (SUV) kay noon ay Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Sa panahong iyon, nakasalang sa impeachment trial si Corona sa kabiguang isapubliko ang kanyang statements of assets, liabilities, and networth (SALN).

Sinisilip ang umano’y pagkahumaling ng Chief Justice sa paggamit ng mamahaling sasakyan ng mayayamang negosyante.

Tinukoy rin sa parehong artikulo ang isang intelligence report na nagsasabing under surveillance si Keng ng National Security Council.

Sangkot daw umano ang negosyante sa human trafficking at drug smuggling, ayon sa artikulo.

Muling ipinost ang article noong February 19, 2014 para itama ang isang typographical error.

Ilang beses na nakipag-ugnayan ang kampo ni Keng sa Rappler upang iwasto ang mga detalye sa artikulo.

Pero noong October 2017, tuluyan nang naghain ng kasong cyber libel si Keng laban kina Ressa at Santos.

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Depensa ng Rappler, May 2012 na-publish ang artikulo ni Santos, pero September 2012 pa naging ganap na batas ang Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Ibig sabihin, wala pang batas sa cyber libel nang inilathala ang Rappler report.

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Veteran broadcast journalists Ces Drilon (left) and Karen Davila (right) stand with Rappler CEO-Executive Editor Maria Ressa (center). On Monday, June 15, Ressa and a former Rappler writer were found guilty of cyber libel charges stemming from a 2012 investigative report involving businessman Wilfredo Keng.
PHOTO/S: @cesdrilon, @iamkarendavila on Instagram, PEP file
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