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Manila court refuses to dismiss cyberlibel raps vs Rappler

Updated @ 1:21 a.m., April 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Monday denied the motion of Rappler executive editor and CEO Maria Ressa to dismiss the cyberlibel case filed against her by businessman Wilfredo Keng.

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In an order dated April 12, Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of the Manila RTC Branch 46 ruled that online publishers could be sued within 12 years of the publication of an allegedly libelous report.

“As alleged in the information, the accused republish[ed] the subject article on Feb. 19, 2014. The instant case was filed in court on Feb. 5, 2019, which is well within the period of 12 years … ” the court said.

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SUV lent to Corona

Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. are facing charges over a report that said Keng lent his sport utility vehicle to impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Santos, who wrote the report, “CJ using SUVs of a controversial businessman,” in May 2012, also alleged that Keng was under government surveillance.

The Department of Justice said Rappler reposted the report on Feb. 19, 2014.

The motion to quash was filed by Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), which argued that the liability period of libel, whether published online or on traditional media, should be within one year.

TRO on cybercrime act

FLAG also argued that Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, was still nonexistent in February 2014 after the high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on its implementation.

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READ: Lawyers’ group asks court to dismiss cyberlibel case vs Rappler chief

But the Manila court, in denying the motion, said the Supreme Court simply issued a TRO on the law’s implementation but not its effectivity.

“[W]hile the crimes committed during the said period cannot be prosecuted during the effectivity of the TRO, they may be prosecuted after the lifting of the same just like what is done in this case,” Montesa said.

The court scheduled the arraignment of Ressa and Santos for Tuesday.

/je /pdi

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TAGS: case, cyberlibel, Journalist, latest news, Maria Ressa, Rappler, Wilfredo Keng
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