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

admin   •   February 14, 2019   •   1981

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

Panelo to file libel charges against INQUIRER.net, Rappler

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 3, 2019

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has announced he will file libel charges against online publications INQUIRER.net and Rappler.

This is due to their “malicious” reports about Panelo’s referral letter on former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez’s executive clemency plea.

According to Panelo, the same media outlets reported that he “recommended” the release of the former mayor. He clarified that he only “referred” it to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole (BPP).

READ: BPP: Panelo referred Sanchez’s clemency application

He is referring to Rappler’s article, “Panelo endorsed Sanchez’s letter for executive clemency.” INQUIRER.net also posted a tweet on the same issue.

“As I earlier said in the press briefing this morning, those articles are reeking with malice and it’s libelous in nature because it tends to impute an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor,” he said.

“In view of this, I’m filing a libel case against net Inquirer and Rappler for publishing these malicious articles,” he added.

Panelo also said they are already drafting the said complaints.

In a statement, Rappler said the complaint is merely a diversionary tactic.

Rappler also calls on Panelo to answer the questions about his possible conflicts of interest.—AAC

DOJ directs PNP-CIDG to provide complete address of respondents in sedition complaint

Maris Federez   •   July 24, 2019

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday directed the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (PNP-CIDG) to provide them complete information of those who were made respondents in the sedition complaint before the agency.

This, following the PNP-CIDG’s filing of complaint for sedition before the DOJ against Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, and former Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino, in relation to the so-called Project Sodoma on Thursday (July 18).

The DOJ Panel of State Prosecutors who was tasked to conduct preliminary investigation on the complaint issued an order directing the PNP-CIDG to provide them with the complete addresses of the said respondents.

The Panel noted that the complaint filed before it does not state respondents’ complete addresses.

It added that the missing information has made it difficult for the Panel to cause service of the subpoena to respondents.

The complaints filed against the respondents were sedition, inciting to sedition, libel, cyber libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice.

The respondents refuted the complaints with one of them even regarding the charges as “hogwash” and “a piece of trash”.   (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

Amal Clooney to represent Rappler’s Maria Ressa

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 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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