Panelo ‘excited to debate’ with Amal Clooney
MANILA, Philippines—”I’m excited to debate with her.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said this on Tuesday in view of reports that international human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney will be part of a legal team that will represent Rappler chief executive officer (CEO) Maria Ressa in cases that include tax evasion and cyberlibel.
According to London-based law firm Doughty Street Chambers, Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher will lead Ressa’s international legal team which will work closely with her counsels in the Philippines.
READ: Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to represent Rappler’s Ressa
Panelo downplayed the report and claimed that Ressa was just looking for a lawyer that could match the Palace official’s wit on a debate.
“Palagay ko naghahanap lang sila ng katapat ko [I guess they are just looking for my match],” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Kasi kapag kaming dalawa ang nagdedebate ni Maria medyo kawawa naman kasi hindi naman siya abogado. E kailangan may abogado din siya, maganda na, sexy pa [Because when I and Maria go on a debate, pity her, she is not even a lawyer. She needs a lawyer, not only beautiful but also sexy],” he added.
Asked if Clooney’s addition to the legal team of Ressa reflects the international community’s interest in her case, Panelo said: “No. I don’t think so. Baka nabola niya lang si Atty. Amal [She only might have fooled Atty. Amal].”
He also claimed that Clooney seems to be “misinformed” about Ressa’s case.
“Misinformed kasi si Atty. Amal e. Siguro kapag nagkita kami [maybe when we meet], to use the word of the President, I can educate her,” Panelos aid.
Ressa and her news organization are facing cyber libel and tax evasion charges, which they claimed aimed as part of a “persecution” for their critical reporting of the Duterte administration.
Ressa has posted bail eight times and has been arrested twice since 2018.
In 2015, Clooney filed a case before the United Nations over the detention of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She has also represented two Reuters journalists who were jailed for reporting on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, who were released in prison in May. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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