by Marje Pelayo | Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2019
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)
Hundreds of U.S. newspapers on Thursday (August 16) launched a coordinated defense of press freedom and a rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump for denouncing some media organizations as enemies of the American people.
The Boston Globe and the New York Times took part along with more than 350 other newspapers of all sizes, including some in states that Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.
The Globe said it coordinated publication among the newspapers and carried details of it on a database on its website.
Each paper ran an editorial, which is usually an unsigned article that reflects the opinion of an editorial board and is separate from the news and other sections in a paper.
The Globe’s editorial accused Trump of carrying out a “sustained assault on the free press.”
“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” it said. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press.
Trump has frequently criticized journalists and described news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions as fake news.
On Thursday, he tweeted “There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.” — Reuters
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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