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Malacañang insists Maria Ressa is the one abusing her power as journalist

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines — It its about abusing one’s power, Malacañang insists that it is Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa who is abusing her power as a journalist.

“Now you say there is an abuse of power, excuse me Maria, abuse of power? You are the one abusing your power as a journalist,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“You’re martialing your colleagues to support you, on the basis of a misplaced and baseless cause. What is the cause? You’re saying that the government is instilling fear because of the case filed against you. There is no connection whatsoever,” he added.

The Palace said the charge against Ressa was constitutional and it was the Court who found probable cause to serve the arrest warrant.

Panelo stressed that the Duterte administration has nothing to do with the case.

The Palace official advised Ressa to stop blaming the government for her fate but blame it on her lawyer instead.

Meanwhile, Panelo called on Ressa’s supporters locally and abroad to educate themselves first on the exact truth behind the embattled journalist’s arrest.

“The support obviously is coming from those who had been either ignorant of the facts or misinformed of the facts,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Amal Clooney to represent Rappler’s Maria Ressa

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

(L-R) Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney

MANILA, Philippines – International human rights lawyers Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC will join Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s legal team.

In a statement, Clooney expressed confidence in Maria Ressa as a ‘courageous’ journalist “who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses.”

Ressa is currently facing several criminal cases including tax evasion and cyberlibel.

Together with her team, Clooney promised to protect the rights of journalists in the country with their handling of Ressa’s charges.

“We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ressa said she is ‘delighted’ by Clooney and her team’s willingness to help in her case.

“I have been targeted and attacked simply for being an independent journalist,” Ressa said in a statement.

“I am delighted that Amal Clooney and her team will be representing me at the international level to challenge the violations of my rights and those of the media organization I represent,” the embattled journalist added.

Clooney and Gallagher, both specializing in international law and human rights, are members of the Doughty Street Chambers law firm. – with details from Mai Bermudez

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SC yet to discuss Rappler’s petition to cover Malacanang – CJ Bersamin

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Suprerme Court of the Philippines

The Supreme Court can no longer deliberate on the petition of Rappler reporters for them to be allowed to cover news in Malacañang.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said that the next en banc session of the Supreme Court justices is on May 3 and it is only then that they will be able to discuss on the said petition.

“Iyong pag-akyat namin sa Baguio natapos na namin iyong mga naka-schedule na kaso namin sa en banc but mahirap lamang na ipagpatuloy namin sa Abril ng Holy week at pagbibigyan namin ang mga miyembro ng Supreme Court na magnilay [We have already finished the cases scheduled in the en banc session in Baguio (City), we just cannot continue as next week is Holy Week. We have to give the members of the Supreme Court to reflect],” the Chief Justice said.

On Thursday, April 11, several Rappler reporters appealed before the Supreme Court to step in and stop Malacanang from barring them from covering the President and his activities.

Rappler said such prohibition is a violation of their press freedom. – Maris Federez

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

by Marje Pelayo   |   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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