Rappler CEO Maria Ressa found guilty of cyber libel

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 convicted Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and its former writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. over a May 2012 article that linked a businessman to alleged illegal activities such as drugs and human trafficking.

Rappler chief Maria Ressa. Photo courtesy of TIME.
Rappler chief Maria Ressa. Photo courtesy of TIME.

Meanwhile, Rappler as a company was declared to have no liability.

The online news website said Ressa and Santos are currently posting bail. "They have been ordered to pay P200,000 in moral damages and another P200,000 in exemplary damages," the report said.

With a conviction, the “message to other journalists and independent voices is clear: Keep quiet, or you’ll be next," said international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represents Ressa.

Businessman Wilfredo Keng had accused Rappler of slandering his reputation alleging that he supposedly allowed former Chief Justice Renato Corona to use an SUV. The same article also mentioned an intelligence report alleging Keng had a 'shady past'.

Keng filed a complaint after 5 years or in 2017.

Rappler argued that the Anti-Cybercrime Law was approved months later, in September 2012.

"There was also a question of whether the cybercrime law could apply because it was enacted into law only in September 2012, or 4 months after the publication of the article," Rappler said.

— The Summit Express

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