WATCH: Palace says Duterte is for press freedom, cites support for journalist in libel suit by rival
Efigenio Toledo IV ( - June 15, 2020 - 8:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is a strong supporter of the freedom of the press, pointing out the president supported a journalist a political rival sued for libel.

Roque recalled how Duterte gave "material support" to Davao-based radio broadcaster Alexander Adonis when he was arrested over a libel complaint filed by then Davao congressman Prospero Nograles.

According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Adonis was convicted to four and a half years in prison in 2008 over a complaint that Nograles filed in 2001.

He could not afford to defend himself in court and was tried in absentia. He was released in 2008 but had already spent nearly two years behind bars, according to a GMA News Online report at the time.

Earlier Monday, a Manila court found Rappler chief executive Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. guilty of cyber libel.

The court sentenced Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr to the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months and one day of prision correccional as minimum to six years of prision correccional as maximum.

They were also ordered to pay private complainant Wilfredo Keng to pay jointly P200,000 for moral damages and P200,000 for exemplary damages.

The verdict may stll be appealed.

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