National Press Club: Ressa’s arrest done in bad taste, but not ‘political harassment’
MANILA, Philippines — The National Press Club (NPC) has expressed dismay on the manner the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Rappler executive Maria Ressa, but advised against “politicizing” the issue.
“While the NPC recognized that the NBI served the warrant as directed by the court, the manner by which it was done smacks of bad taste,” the NPC said in a statement on Friday.
NPC noted how the NBI arrested Ressa at the time when the courts were already closing and could no longer process bail.
The NPC said the NBI served the warrant at the close of office hour “thus affording Ms. Ressa little, or no time at all, to post the necessary bail and thus ensuring that she should spend the night in jail.”
Ressa was arrested on Wednesday by NBI agents in connection with a cyberlibel complaint filed against her by businessman Wilfredo Keng.
Ressa spent the night at the office of the NBI after a Pasay City night court allegedly refused to accept bail following her arrest.
Ressa posted a P100,000 bail before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 on Thursday.
While the NPC expressed its distaste on Ressa’s arrest, it also cautioned against politicizing the incident.
The press club reminded that “a libel case is a legal remedy available to everyone and should not be politicized.”
“The NPC takes exemption to the position by some quarters that the incident is another act of political harassment by the government against its critics,” the statement added.
Ressa’s case, the NPC said, “is a great ‘inconvenience,’ but not something that should relegate someone to the altar of press freedom for ‘martyrdom.’”
Other press groups and organizations earlier said Ressa’s arrest is a threat to press freedom. /muf
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