Court to rule on cyber libel case vs Rappler, Ressa on April 3
Journalist Maria Ressa (front L) leaves her office after she was arrested in Manila on February 13, 2019. Ressa, who has repeatedly clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested in her Manila office on February 13 in what rights advocates called an act of "persecution."
AFP/Maria Tan
Court to rule on cyber libel case vs Rappler, Ressa on April 3
Kristine Joy Patag ( - February 7, 2020 - 6:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Manila court is set to rule on the government’s cyber libel case against Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa on April 3.

Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 Presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa set the promulgation on the morning of April 3, eight months since the trial started in July 2019.

Also charged in the case is Reynaldo Santos, Rappler’s former researcher. The case emanated from a complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng assailing an article, first published in May 2012.

Case background

The Department of Justice indicted Rappler, Ressa and Santos on cyber libel charges, despite the cybercrime law being signed four months after the publication of the story.

State prosecutors pointed out that the story was updated on Feb. 19, 2014, which puts it under the “multiple publication rule.”

Ressa and Santos, however, raised that there was no substantial change made in the article when it was updated in 2014, but the court said that their argument is “evidentiary in nature which the defense should prove during trial.”

National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Ressa at her office early night Feb. 13, 2019.

Her camp tried to post bail before a night court in Pasay but failed to do so.

Ressa spent the night in detention at the NBI then posted the bail bond of P100,000 at the Manila court the following day.

Ressa and Rappler are also embroiled in a string of legal suits. They are facing charges of tax evasionanti-dummy and violations of the Securities and Regulations code.

A Quezon City prosecutor junked Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones’ libel complaint against Ressa and reporter Rambo Talabong for lack of probable cause.

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