Palace: Rappler CEO's case was of 'bad journalism,' not press freedom suppression | Inquirer News
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Palace: Rappler CEO’s case was of ‘bad journalism,’ not press freedom suppression

By: - Reporter / @KAguilarINQ
/ 09:39 AM June 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — For Malacañang, the case of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was not about the suppression of press freedom, but a case of “bad journalism.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday claimed there was no fact-checking made to a Rappler article on businessman Wilfredo Keng who had filed the cyber libel case in 2017.

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“You need to read the decision because the poor judge cannot defend her decision. The decision speaks for itself, that is her defense, there is no suppression of the freedom of the press. It was a case of bad journalism, it was a case of bad lawyering,” Roque said in an interview over ANC’s Headstart.

“Because there was no fact-checking. It’s basic. Before you call someone criminal, make sure they are criminal. Where is the conviction? Where is even the complaint? You know what I’m saying? After all, that’s the very definition of what libel is—imputation of a crime,” he further said.

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Ressa and Rappler’s former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. on Monday were found guilty of cyber libel over a story Rappler published in May 2012 which claimed that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a Chevrolet Suburban sports utility vehicle found to be registered to Keng.

The report also cited an intelligence report that allegedly stated the businessman had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in “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, a few years after the article was first posted and three years after it was re-posted to correct a typographical error.

“There was no effort at all to establish that there was no malice. And you can only prove there was no malice if you make sure your stories were in fact, facts and not mere accusations,” Roque added.

Roque had denied that President Rodrigo Duterte had a hand in the verdict, noting that he supports press freedom and that he had never filed a libel complaint against journalists.

But for Ressa, saying that Duterte values press freedom was “misleading at best” and a “lie at worst.”

Ressa also previously said that the guilty verdict against her and Santos was not only a blow to Rappler but to every citizen, saying “freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right” a Filipino has.

/MUF

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TAGS: Harry Roque, Journalism, Malacañang, Maria Ressa, Palace, press freedom, Rappler, Reynaldo Santos Jr., Rodrigo Duterte
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