Palace: No evidence presented to counter malicious intent in Ressa’s case
MANILA, Philippines — How can Rappler CEO Maria Ressa be acquitted of cyber libel if there was no evidence presented to counter the supposed malicious intent in their published article?
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque posed this question Tuesday as he reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte was not behind the conviction of Ressa and a former researcher-writers.
“Unang una, ang kaso po ni Maria Ressa, pribadong indibidwal ang nag-kaso sa kanya. Hindi po gobyerno, hindi taong gobyerno, hindi pulitko, pribadong indivbidwal,” Roque said during an online briefing.
(First of all, a private individual filed the case against Maria Ressa. It was not the government, a government worker nor official, but a private individual.)
“Paano naman hindi mako-convict si Maria Ressa, hindi naman nag-introduce ng evidence na walang malice? Ni hindi nag-introduce ng evidence na vinerify nila yung kanilang nirereport na kriminal ang isang pribadong indibidwal bago nila ito ipinublish. Walang ganung ebidensyang ipineresenta,” he added.
(How can she not be convicted when they did not present evidence that there was no malice? They did not introduce evidence that they verified their report that a private individual was a criminal before they published it. No such evidence was presented.)
Earlier, Roque said that the President supports press freedom, noting that he never filed a libel complaint against journalists. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1291852/duterte-supports-press-freedom-never-sued-journalists-palace
Ressa and Rappler’s former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. on Monday were found guilty of cyber libel over a story published in May 2012 linking businessman Wilfredo Keng to alleged human trafficking and drug smuggling.
The cybercrime law took effect in September 2012 or four months after the story was published. Keng filed the cyber libel complaint in 2017, five years after the article was first posted and three years after it was re-posted to correct a typographical error.
“Although yung kanyang sentensya po ay puwedeng walang kulong, e hindi po niya maaavail ang probation kapag siya po ay nag-apela at kapag siya po ay nag-apela at hindi nagbago ang desisyon ng korte, kalaboso po,” Roque said.
(Although jail time could be avoided under her sentence, she cannot avail probation if she appeals. And if she appeals yet the court’s decision remains, she will be imprisoned.)
The court decision was met with criticism from groups with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) saying it “kills freedom of speech and the press.”
Opposition senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, warned that Ressa’s conviction sent a chilling message to critics of the Duterte administration.
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