Focap says conviction of Ressa, Santos a ‘menacing blow’ to press freedom | Inquirer News

Focap says conviction of Ressa, Santos a ‘menacing blow’ to press freedom

/ 01:15 PM June 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The conviction for cyber libel of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. is a “menacing blow” to press freedom in the country, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) said Monday.


Focap said it is “extremely alarmed” over the conviction of Ressa and Santos, which several groups have also denounced for its possible implications to press freedom in the Philippines.

“It’s a menacing blow to press freedom in the Philippines and adds a new weapon in a growing legal arsenal against constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties in an Asian outpost of democracy,” Focap said in a statement.


It has vowed that Focap journalists “will press on with their courageous, fair, accurate and independent journalism” despite the verdict.

“We have fought to stay independent since the dark Martial Law days. We will fight on every time, threat after threat,” the journalists’ group added.

“We stand with Maria and Rey. We stand with Rappler. We stand with all independent journalists,” Focap further said.

Ressa and Santos were sentenced to serve six months and one day up to six years in prison but were allowed to post bail over the cyber libel complaint filed in 2017 by Filipino-Chinese businessman Wilfredo Keng. They were also ordered to indemnify Keng P200,000 in moral damages and P200,000 in exemplary damages.

The case filed in 2017 stemmed from a Rappler article titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman” written by Santos in 2012, which claimed that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a Chevrolet Suburban sports utility vehicle found to be registered to Keng.

It also cited an intelligence report prepared in 2002 which allegedly stated that the businessman had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in “human trafficking and drug smuggling.”



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TAGS: cyber libel, FOCAP, Maria Ressa, press freedom, Rappler, Reynaldo Santos Jr.
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