Cyberlibel complainant ‘grateful’ to DOJ, fighting Rappler ‘to very end’
The private complainant in the cyberlibel case the government brought against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. on Thursday welcomed the indictments, saying “no one is above the law.”
In a statement issued by his lawyers, businessman Wilfredo Keng said he was “deeply grateful” that Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors decided to file the case in court.
“While I am aware that this vindication is but the start of what may be a long and arduous process, I am committed to see this legal battle to the very end,” Keng said, adding that he wanted the case to serve as a warning to journalists that “no one is above the law.”
“As I pursue this case to its just conclusion, I pray that the dispensation of justice be lawful and swift in recognition of the global platform of the perpetrators, the length of time the libelous statements against me have remained available for the entire world to see, and other factors which exponentially threaten my life, limb, property, health, well-being and peace of mind,” he said.
The businessman said he not only hoped to seek remedy and redress for himself and his family, but also to move other victims of cyberlibel and cyberbullying to stand up and seek justice.
He said that if Rappler, Ressa and Santos were not held accountable, their “example of impunity will be emulated and replicated, and will destroy not just individual lives but our entire country.”
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Keng with the National Bureau of Investigation over a Rappler report published in 2012 and updated in 2014 linking him to impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona and claiming that he had been under government surveillance on suspicion of involvement in several crimes.
Request to take down story
Keng said he had asked Rappler to take down the story and clear his name, but the report remained on the news site.
He said Rappler had never attempted to get his side “on the crimes they wrongly imputed to me or to fact-check their baseless attacks against my name.”
“I have never had a criminal record. For almost four decades since I started working, I have consistently secured official clearance from the NBI certifying that I have never been involved in any criminal case and have never had any criminal history,” Keng said.
He said Rappler never denied publishing “clear defamation” against him and, worse, had tried to mislead the public by publishing “news” that his complaint had been “dismissed” by the NBI.
Keng said Rappler knew “absolutely well” that it was the NBI itself that filed the case with the DOJ. “Rappler’s inaccurate, nay reckless, reports and statements continue to be quoted by other news outfits, thereby perpetuating the clearly incorrect version of the said story,” he added.
“Such reckless, premature and inaccurate reporting on official government processes reek[s] of actual malice and cyberbullying and border[s] on the intentional propagation of ‘fake news,’” he added. —JEROME ANING
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.