by UNTV News | Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2018
MANILA, Philippines — Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa appeared at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime Division, Monday, on a cyber libel complaint.
Ressa said that while they were given the opportunity to answer the complaint, she still sees another motive for it.
She thinks that the timing is suspicious because the probe was set after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked their license.
“Obviously, I still see this as a continuing pattern to harass and/or to shut down Rappler. I still see it as part of a concerted effort that will have an impact on press freedom in the country,” said Ressa.
She assured that Rappler is ready to face all complaints and cases which may be filed against them.
“We appeal to government authorities to do the right thing, to follow the rule of law, to give us due process. We have nothing to hide. We’ll completely submit ourselves as I did today,” said the CEO.
The cyber libel complaint was filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng last December over an article Rappler published in May 2012.
Said article was about then Chief Justice Renato Corona using Keng’s SUVs but also contain the businessman’s alleged involvement in human trafficking and drug smuggling.
While the article was written before the enactment of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, it was updated by Rappler in 2014 hence, the complainant argued that it could be qualified as a cyber libel.
But IT expert and Rappler counsel Atty. JJ Disini sees a defect in the complaint.
“The publication precedes or happened even before the law was in existence and therefore it causes into question whether or not it could apply in this case,” said the legal counsel.
He pointed out that it would be a big problem if this is affirmed since it would mean authors and publishers of decade-old articles could still be charged with cyber-libel, as long as these articles are accessible on the internet.
“If that constitutes libel today, then no one is safe. Anyone that has a libelous article that continues to be accessible today may be charged with libel and moving forward it affects everyone, not just media outlets, but also even bloggers, people who published some libel maybe ten years ago if somehow it finds its way online,” said the lawyer.
The NBI Cybercrime Division Chief said that they will study the law’s provision on this very carefully.
Rappler was given 10 days to submit their answer to the complaint.
As soon as they complied with the submission of their affidavit, we will immediately evaluate the case and submit a recommendation,” said Eduarte. — Roderic Mendoza | UNTV News & Rescue
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