Cyber-libel guilty verdict vs. Rappler’s Ressa and Santos, another tyrant’s victory
Manila, Philippines – After the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the legislative railroaded the anti-terrorism or the “terror bill” as dubbed by activists, the Anakpawis Party-list slammed the latest guilty verdict for the cyber-libel charge against Rappler’s CEO Maria Reesa and writer Reynaldo Santos, Jr. as another tyrant’s victory against the people’s democratic rights, particularly on press freedom. A Manila Regional Trial Court decided a guilty verdict and rendered both a sentence of prision correccional or imprisonment of 6 months and 1 day to 6 years, and P400,000 of moral and exemplary damages to the complainant.
“Tyranny has earned another precedence to assault press freedom, supposedly protected by the constitution. While the ultimate tool against dissent is pending for signing by Duterte, another just became for the disposal of a tyrant, and even corrupt, traditional politicians, against critics and opposition who are advocating good governance, transparency and accountability,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative said in a press statement.
He said that this would not only affect journalists, but also progressive people’s organizations pushing for fundamental reforms, as they are now vulnerable against legal offensive of rotten politicians or bureaucrats, to undermine freedom of expression and right grievance.
Amid the unfavorable verdict, he supported the media community’s battlecry “Hold The Line! Defend Press Freedom! Courage On!”
“The call is very apt and timely. We are being reigned over by tyranny and undermined freedom and democratic rights. We see this event as an additional demonstration of an eroded rule of law. The decisive means to restore and protect people’s rights and freedoms is through a broad people’s opposition and movement,” he ended. ###