IBP head on Ressa verdict: There's need for clarity in PH laws | Inquirer News
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IBP head on Ressa verdict: There’s need for clarity in PH laws

/ 08:10 AM June 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is hoping that the cyber libel case against Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. will highlight the “need for clarity” in the country’s laws to avoid misapplication.

IBP President Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa said this on Tuesday, a day after the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 convicted Ressa and Santos of cyber libel.  The complaint was filed by Filipino-Chinese businessman Wilfredo Keng.

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“May the case highlight the need for clarity in our laws to leave less room for interpretation or misapplication and fortify our courage to uphold the rule of law,” he said in a statement.

Cayosa pointed out that there were questions and arguments regarding the correct interpretation and application of jurisprudence and the laws, specifically the Revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Law, with respect to “prescription” and “republication,” as well as the Supreme Court Circular 08-2008 with respect to the penalties imposed.

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The said circular provides guidelines in the observance of a rule of preference in the imposition of penalties for libel cases.

He, however, said that these issues can be resolved by the appellate courts.

“As the verdict is not final, we urge everyone to stick to the facts, refrain from labelling, and support a timely resolution of the remaining issues. Justice bilis not justice tiis,” he said.

The complaint against Ressa and Santos stemmed from a Rappler article titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman” written by Santos, 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.

The article was published May 2012, four months before the cybercrime law was enacted in September that year.

Keng filed the complaint in 2017 or five years after the article was published and three years after it was supposedly re-posted after a typographical error was corrected.

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Meanwhile, Cayosa pointed out that both the complainant and the accused were given the chance to present evidence and argue their respective sides.

“The facts are simple and straightforward. Procedural due process was observed and the trial court promptly issued its decision. The accused were allowed bail pending appeal,” he said.

The IBP president urged the media and citizens to not be deterred by the court ruling.

“The decision of the trial court should not deter media or any citizen from seeking the truth nor diminish our freedom of expression or any of our constitutional rights. It should nevertheless remind us to responsibly exercise our rights with due regard for others,” he said.

RELATED STORIES:
 
Rappler CEO convicted of cyberlibel but vows: ‘We will fight‘

Rappler: Conviction of Ressa, Santos ‘sets dangerous precedent for everyone online’

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TAGS: Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa, IBP, Maria Ressa, Rappler, Reynaldo Santos Jr.
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