Claimed by critics as the latest threat to press freedom
Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of Rappler, and a Filipino-American, was found guilty of cyber libel, together with Rappler’s former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos, Jr., the ruling by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa. Both of them were sentenced to a jail term ranging from six months and one day to six years.
The conviction of Ressa and Santos was the result of the 2017 cyber libel case filed by a private businessman, Wilfredo Keng, identified by Rappler as a person engaged in some nefarious activities. The defense strongly argued that the cyber article came out before the Cyber crime bill became a law but argued it was re-published in 2014.
After the verdict, voices were raised from both sides of the issues. Some critics strongly said that this an erosion of the very meaning of freedom of speech. Others said, it is not a threat on press freedom.
As the locals are divided on Ressa’s conviction, foreign broadcasters had a fest for news as they interviewed Ressa by CNN, DW of Germany broadcast media and Al Jazeera. In her CNN interview, Ressa spoke to Michael Holmes that the verdict “is politically motivated by the Duterte administration.
Malacanang denied that President Duterte is not involved in the case, it was an ordinary citizen who filed a complaint to the court to clear his name.
Ressa strongly said that she will fight for the guilty verdict and for press freedom.