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Int’l journalists hit Duterte admin for Maria Ressa’s arrest

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration is hit by international journalists and personalities for the recent arrest of online news website Rappler’s CEO, Maria Ressa due to cyber libel.

Several comments on social media slammed the administration for what they believe is “suppression” of Ressa’s freedom of expression.

CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amnpour called the arrest a “desperate move” by the government.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist, condemned the arrest and said she is “deeply troubled” by the report.

The director of the Global Press Freedom of Expression and United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, meanwhile, expressed support for Ressa.

Other press freedom advocates also expressed dismay over what they claim as unjust treatment to the Ressa of the Duterte government.

“We call on Filipino authorities to immediately release Ressa. Drop this spurious cyberlibel charge and cease and desist this campaign of intimidation aimed at silencing Rappler,” said the international media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalist.

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo accused the administration of “political harassment” in an attempt to curtail press freedom.

“Isa na namang yugto na nagpapakita sa atin kung gaano iniipit iyong mga naglalakas-loob na makapagsalita laban sa mga polisiya ng administrasyong ito. Napakalaking dagok sa press freedom. Napakalaking warning na ibinibigay to anyone na magkakaroon ng lakas ng loob na magpahayag ng kanilang saloobin, ay napaparusahan,” Robredo said.

For its part, the Palace maintained that Ressa’s case should not be linked to press freedom.

“Ms. Ressa being a media practitioner and a high ranking officer of a media outfit critical of the President’s programs and policies has nothing to do with the present circumstances she is currently in,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Panelo said the Executive branch respects the decision of the judiciary and it has no reason to meddle with the court’s ruling on Ressa’s case.

Panelo stressed that no one is above the law and any citizen should abide by the Constitution regardless of their status or position. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Rappler’s Maria Ressa pleads not guilty to tax evasion charges

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa | Image grabbed from a Reuters video

REUTERS – Rappler CEO Maria Ressa pleaded not guilty on Wednesday (April 3) to tax evasion charges.

Ressa maintained that the tax dodging case, as well as the other cases filed against her and online news platform Rappler, were “politically motivated”.

“I still say that these cases are all politically motivated. Where in the world do you come home on a Friday, get arrested, post bail and on a Monday, get another arrest warrant and post bail again. I’ve been arrested twice in a little over a month and a week or so, right?” Ressa told reporters.

“It’s clear but we will fight every single one, and hope for the integrity of the men and women who will handle these cases, and that they go as well as today,” she added.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) in October indicted Ressa, and online news platform Rappler, for attempting to evade taxes by not reporting gains of almost $3 million in the company’s 2015 tax returns.

Ressa was served an arrest warrant over a libel case live on television in February and spent a night in detention before she was released.

She was arrested again last Friday (March 29) on charges she had violated foreign ownership rules. She was later freed by the court after she posted bail.

“It’s very serious for me. Each charge, there are four different charges, and each charge could carry a prison penalty from two to 10 years, so altogether 40 years, so it’s real, it’s very real, it’s the first arraignment of 11 investigations and cases against Rappler,” the embattled journalist said.

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Rappler CEO Ressa posts bail for anti-Dummy Law charges

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler news site Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Ressa has been released after posting a P90,000 bail before the Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 265 on Friday (March 29).

Ressa was arrested earlier upon arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from San Francisco, California in relation with her alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and the Securities Regulations Code (SRC).

Pasig RTC Judge Acerey Pacheco issued the warrant for Ressa’s arrest.

READ:  Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrested at NAIA

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against Rappler news site over the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR) to foreign company, Omidyar Network, which has investments in Rappler’s operations.

Such is a violation of the 1987 Constitution, according to the complaint, as media entities in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino-owned. This brought up the allegation that Rappler was being controller by foreign entities.

Rappler has maintained that the allegations are not true even after the Court of Appeals ruled that the news website was not fully-owned by Filipinos.

This is the seventh time that Ressa has been arrested and the 11th case filed against Rappler.

The veteran journalist said her arrest, along with five members of Rappler’s 2016 board, sends a “bad signal” to the world, especially the business sector.

READ: Ressa, six other Rappler Execs face charges anew over anti-dummy law violation

“Apparently, the Philippine government with arresting just me, the fact that they also included upstanding, successful, tech entrepreneurs and businessmen, this is a bad signal to send to the rest of the world,” she told reporters outside the Pasig RTC shortly after she was released.

Malacañang, meanwhile, told Ressa to stop complaining about arrests, insisting that the legal cases against her are not attacks on press freedom.

“She cannot be complaining that this is again a violation of press freedom. Press freedom has nothing to do with the charges against Ms. Ressa,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a Palace press briefing.

“She’s charged of a crime and there is a determination of probable cause, hence, a warrant of arrest has been issued,” he added.

Panelo also pointed out that the issuance of warrant of arrest against Ressa proves that the government was observing due process in all the cases filed against Rappler.

He said that Ressa should instead focus on her cases and quit using press freedom as an excuse to attack the government.

“She should concentrate on defending herself in court. She cannot be always using the freedom of the press as an excuse to attack the administration,” the Palace official said. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrested at NAIA

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities served the warrant of arrest to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa shorty after she arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday (March 29).

The arrest warrant issued by Judge Acerey Pacheco of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 265 was in connection with her alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and the Securities Regulations Code (SRC).

Prior to her arrival, Ressa posted on Twitter saying she will post bail for the case.

“Landing in a short while to face my latest arrest warrant and the 7th time I will post bail,” she said on Twitter.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed against the online news site, Rappler, over the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to Indonesian company, Omidyar Network, which has investments in Rappler’s operations.

Such is a violation of the Constitution, according to the complaint, as media entities in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino-owned. This brought up the allegation that Rappler was being controlled by foreign entities.

Rappler maintained that the allegations are not true even after the Court of Appeals ruled that the news website was not fully-owned by Filipinos.

“The grant of control to a foreign entity over a mass media entity, regardless of the actual exercise of such foreign control, is already considered a violation,” the CA ruling said.

After the serving of the arrest warrant, Ressa was escorted to the Pasig RTC to post bail. – Marje Pelayo

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