Pangilinan slams Ressa’s arrest, urges Filipinos ‘to stand on the side of truth’
Updated (8:39 p.m.)
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Pangilinan slammed the arrest of veteran journalist Maria Ressa as he urged the public to stand on the side of the truth.
“This is a clear case of the powerful harassing those whose duty is to keep them in check,” Pangilinan said in a statement moments after Ressa, Rappler’s Chief Executive Officer, was arrested inside her news agency’s headquarters in Pasig City on Wednesday.
“Inuunti-unti at dinadahan-dahan ang bawat institusyong maaaring tumindig laban sa pang-aabuso ng kapangyarihan (They are taking each institution that may stand up against the abuses of those in power),” he said.
“Kailangang palagan ito— bawat pulgada, bawat hakbang na may nangyayaring ganito, kailangan nating magsalita, magbuklod, sabihin sa mga nasa poder: Hindi kami papayag, at hindi nag-iisa si Maria. Kailangan nating gumuhit at sabihing nasa panig tayo ng katotohanan at katarungan. Nasa panig tayo ng malayang pamamahayag. Nasa panig tayo ni Maria Ressa,” he added.
(We need to oppose this every step of the way. We need to speak up, stand united and tell those in power that we are not going to tolerate this. You are not alone, Ressa. We need to stand on the side of truth and justice. We are for press freedom. We support Maria Ressa.)
Pangilinan, who is the president of the opposition Liberal Party, assured Rappler of the party’s support.
“The Liberal Party, along with every true ally of liberal democracy in the Philippines, fully and unequivocally stands with Rappler in this dark time for press freedom in the country,” he said.
With this, Pangilinan also compared the situation of Ressa to that of Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration who is detained on illegal drug trade charges.
“Like our partymate Sen. Leila de Lima before her, Maria Ressa now stands as a beacon of speaking truth to power, and upholding the very principles that make us a modern, democratic nation,” Pangilinan said.
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation went to Rappler’s headquarters in Pasig City on Wednesday and issued the arrest warrant against Ressa issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 for a cyber libel case.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada noted that Ressa’s arrest proved how the current government “has no space for a free press.”
“There is no basis for her arrest because the crime she is accused to have committed was not a crime because there was no cyber law at the time. When there is no law, there is no crime,” he said in a separate statement. /ee
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