Ressa faces another pending cyber libel complaint from Keng over a tweet | Inquirer News
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Ressa faces another pending cyber libel complaint from Keng over a tweet

/ 07:08 PM June 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – After her first libel conviction, Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa appears to be facing another cyber libel complaint from businessman Wilfredo Keng due to a tweet the journalist made in February 2019.

The complaint filed by Keng, dated February 13, 2020, is based on Section 4(c)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 — the same law that Ressa was found guilty of violating by the Manila Regional Trial Court in a separate complaint from Keng.

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While the circumstances were different, the context of this complaint revolved on the same premise of Ressa’s conviction: that Keng was maligned by labeling him as someone involved in the killing of a former Manila councilor.

But this time, it was a tweet by Ressa, clarifying where they got their story from.

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“The foregoing images pertain to a Philippine Star article published in 2002.  The said article maliciously imputes to my person the commission of various heinous crimes, without offering justifiable motive for the false allegation,” Keng said in his complaint affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“No less than the Philippine Star itself has taken down the very same article,” he added.

Keng said that he decided to file a separate case because his counsel believes that the tweet made by Ressa is a different publication, and one that is not included in the disputed story.

The complainant also noted that he has sent out a letter to Rappler to request the taking down of the post, but they attached a supposed letter from Ressa saying that doing so would be censorship.

“As advised by my counsel, the above-twitter post of the respondent is a different publication, therefore making the respondent liable for a new and separate offense, following the doctrine laid down by the Supreme Court,” he explained.

Allegation of cyber libel stems from a story that ran on Rappler about late ex-Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona’s supposed penchant for using cars that is not his, including one that Keng supposedly owned.

While Keng has admitted in the story that the car with the specific plate number is his, he later on took offense to Rappler’s attribution that he has been under surveillance for human trafficking and drug-related activities.

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In the complaint-affidavit, Keng attached the certification from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) about him having no drug-related cases.

Last Monday, Ressa and the reporter who wrote the story were found guilty of cyber libel, for the story that appeared on the website.  Critics of the Manila Regional Trial Court’s decision claimed that the law used — R.A. 10175 — was not yet in effect when the story was published.

Keng says the conviction was a vindication on his part, maintaining that the case was never an attack on press freedom.

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TAGS: businessman Wilfredo Keng, cyber libel, Cybercrime Prevention Act, Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa, Manila Regional Trial Court, Maria Ressa, Philippine news updates, press freedom, Rappler, Tweet, Twitter
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