Rappler CEO Maria Ressa Found Guilty of Cyber Libel

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa  and  former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. have just been convicted guilty of cyber libel. The verdict was handed down by the Manila Regional Trial Court around 9:08 a.m. today, June 15, 2020.

In a report by Rappler, cyber libel is punishable by jail time of 6 months and 1 day to up to 7 years. A conviction is appealable, first to the Court of Appeals, then the Supreme Court, and only until there is a final affirmation will jail time start for a bailable offense like cyber libel.

It all began when the lawsuit was filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng in October 2017 over a 2012 investigative report written by Reynaldo Santos Jr. It mentioned Keng's ties with then Chief Justice Renato Corona. The article also claimed the businessman's alleged involvement in illegal activities and mentioned Chief Justice Renato Corona using SUVs of 'controversial' businessmen. Santos is also named in the suit. 

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According to an ABS-CBN News report on the timeline of the lawsuit, the article was published in May 2012, and in September of the same year, Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act was signed into law. Two years later, in February 2014, the investigative report on Wilfredo Keng was republished according to the Department of Justice resolution. From August 2016 to November 2017, Keng's camp has reached out to Rappler to clear Keng's name. In 2018, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed a cyber libel case against Rappler, Maria Ressa, and Reynaldo Santos Jr. among others. Ressa was arrested in February 2019 and moved to quash the cyber libel case. However, the Manila court denied this and today, the verdict has been finalized. Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. have just been convicted guilty of cyber libel. 

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What are your thoughts about the verdict? Stay tuned for more updates on the lawsuit. 

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