MANILA regional trial court Branch 46 deferred the arraignment of Rappler, Inc. and its CEO and executive editor Maria A. Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos, Jr.
Lawyer Theodore O. Te, Ms. Ressa’s counsel, said the court reset the arraignment to May 17 and gave them 10 days to file a motion for reconsideration, which the respondents plan to.
For her part, Ms. Ressa said, “I think what’s important to keep in mind is, this case is not just about Rappler. It’s about anyone who posts on the web, anyone who posts (on) Facebook…any journalist who writes anything online. That’s why it’s incredibly important to look at it.”
“(W)hat we hope and pray for is judicial independence,” she added.
The cyber-libel case stemmed from the complaint of businessman Wilfredo D. Keng in 2017 over a Rappler article published on May 29, 2012 and updated in February 2014 titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman.” The said article reported that Mr. Keng, who is the alleged owner of the vehicle used by former chief justice Renato C. Corona, was involved in illegal activities. The case was filed in February 2019.
The court junked their motion to quash on April 12 on the ground that the elements of libel were present, which constitute an offense.
“Considering that all the essential elements of the offense as defined under RA (Republic Act) 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) were sufficiently established in the Information, the allegations contained therein, indeed, constitute an offense,” the court order read.
It also said denied the claim of Rappler that the prosecution retroactively applied the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 as there was a temporary restraining order by the Supreme Court when the article was said to be republished in 2014. — VMMV