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Ressa’s cyber libel case ‘unrelated’ to freedom of expression — Malacañang

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2019

File photo: Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

Malacañang clarified that freedom of speech does not end with the arrest of Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Rappler, an online news network critical of the Duterte government.

“Freedom of expression, as critics of this administration erroneously suggest, is absolutely unrelated with Ms. Ressa’s probable violation of the country’s laws,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

Ressa was served an arrest warrant Wednesday afternoon (February 13) at the Rappler headquarters in connection with cyber libel charges.

The warrant was issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Rainelda H. Estacio-Montesa after finding probable cause in the complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo D. Keng about a story published by Rappler which linked him to the illegal drug trade.

Panelo assured that the Duterte administration will not interfere in the case as it has “always respected the Judiciary on how it handles cases pending before its courts.”

He added that Ressa should “welcome” the chance to defend herself and “be heard before the court of law.”

“We are a country of laws and every citizen must adhere to the rule of law. No one is above the law, not even high profile self-anointed crusading journalists. Whatever the outcome is, it must be respected by everyone for such is the law. This is how the rule of law work,” Panelo said in a statement. —UNTV News and Rescue

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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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Businessman files cyber libel complaint vs. alias Bikoy, Facebook PH, YouTube

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2019

Courtesy: Misibis Bay Resort Facebook page

Owner of Misibis Bay Resort, Zaldy Co, has filed cyber libel charges against self-confessed “Bikoy” Peter Joemel Advincula, Facebook PH, and YouTube.

“Like ‘Bikoy’, Facebook and YouTube must be held accountable. Our legal system shouldn’t allow them to be part of a systematic campaign to destroy people and simply get away with it,” Co said in a statement.

Based on the filed complaint, Co is asking for P1 billion in damages against the said respondents, including Rodel Jayme, for linking his resort in the ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’ videos.

“The truth is finally out. By his own admission, ‘Bikoy’ said everything in the viral video series that implicates me, Misibis Bay Resort and other personalities in the illegal drug trade are pure fabrication,” Co added.

Co recalled that his camp had already asked Facebook and YouTube to take down the videos but his request was allegedly ignored.

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DOJ joins hunt for personalities behind “real narco list” videos

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined the hunt for alias Bikoy and the other personalities behind the “Totoong Narco List” [real narco list] videos.

The said videos implicated Presidential son Paolo Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña, and former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, in illegal drug trade.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra had also ordered the department’s fact-finding team to conduct an investigation on the identity of the people behind the series of videos and to file possible criminal cases against them.

Guevarra said, “I have given instructions to the DOJ Office of Cybercrime to coordinate with the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) cybercrime unit and find out the source of these videos.”

The justice secretary further stated that the criminal charges will depend on the acts committed, such as cyber libel or similar offense.

Aside from the DOJ-initiated investigation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is also conducting a separate probe on the said videos. – Maris Federez

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