In a statement after the decision, Amal Clooney, the head of Ressas legal defense team, stated, “This conviction is an affront to the guideline of law, a stark warning to the press, and a blow to democracy in the Philippines. I hope the appeals court will set the record straight in the case.”
In todays decision, released by Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa, Rappler was discovered to have no liability, but Ressa and Santos were both discovered guilty and ordered to pay 200,000 pesos (about $3,978 U.S. dollars) in moral damages and another 200,000 pesos fine in exemplary damages. They are entitled to post-conviction bail and can appeal the decision.
Both Ressa and the journalists of Rappler, which was founded in 2012, have actually written critically about the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, carrying out examinations into corruption charges.
Veteran reporter Maria Ressa, the founder of Filipino independent news website Rappler, was found guilty on Monday of cyber libel charges by a Manila court. Critics of the charges, which consist of popular human rights and press liberty supporters, state charges submitted versus Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr, a previous Rappler scientist and editor, demonstrate how the federal government is breaking down on media liberty and the independent press in the Philippines.
The five-year gap in between the posts publication and Kengs complaint was much longer than the 1 year authoritative period for common libel in the Philippines chastening code, and in order to charge Ressa and Santos, the Department of Justice extended that period to 12 years for cyber libel.
Ressa and Santos were jailed in 2019 on cyber libel security charges associated with a short article published in 2012 that reported on the supposed ties in between Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached in 2011, and wealthy business owners including Wilfredo Keng.
After Ressa was jailed in February 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a declaration that stated Ressas treatment “seems the newest aspect in a pattern of intimidation of a media outlet that has actually fiercely secured its independence and its right to carry out extensive examinations and to criticize the authorities.”
Veteran journalist Maria Ressa, the founder of Filipino independent news site Rappler, was found guilty on Monday of cyber libel charges by a Manila court. She confronts 6 years in jail. Critics of the charges, which consist of prominent human rights and press freedom supporters, say charges submitted versus Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr, a former Rappler researcher and editor, show how the government is punishing media flexibility and the independent press in the Philippines.
Keng filed the cyber libel problem versus the 2 reporters in 2017. The five-year space between the posts publication and Kengs complaint was much longer than the one-year authoritative period for regular libel in the Philippines penal code, and in order to charge Ressa and Santos, the Department of Justice extended that period to 12 years for cyber libel. Rapplers legal counsel argued this might impact their constitutionally safeguarded rights.
Ressa said, “Freedom of journalism is the foundation of every single right you have as a Filipino resident. If we cant hold power to account, we cant do anything. Are we going to lose liberty of the press? Will it be death by a thousand cuts, or are we going to hold the line so that we protect the rights that are preserved in our constitution?”