Rappler’s Maria Ressa Posts Bail on Cyber Libel

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa talks with the media after posting bail. | Photo by CMFR

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa posted bail today, 14 February 2019, at Branch 46 of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with a cyber libel charge over an article the online news site published in 2012.

Ressa was arrested yesterday, February 13, by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officers in Rappler’s office in Pasig City. The warrant was issued February 12 by presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of the Manila RTC on the charge of violating section 4(C)(4) of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The charge arose from a story linking businessman Wilfredo Keng to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. (See: “NBI Subpoenas Rappler CEO, Former Reporter Re Cyber libel Complaint”)

Ressa tried to post bail yesterday, but a Pasay night court refused it. She spent the night at the NBI headquarters on Taft Avenue, Manila.

Ressa posted PHP100,000 (USD1,917) bail. An order for her release was issued afterward.

Speaking to reporters, Ressa said Rappler will continue the fight in court, and asked journalists “not to be silent.”

“Press freedom is not just about journalists… Press freedom is the foundation of every single right of Filipinos…” she said. Ressa added: “When I look back a decade from now, I want to be sure I have done all that I can. We will not duck. We will not hide. We will hold the line.”

In a statement, Rappler said: “If this is another of several attempts to intimidate us, it will not succeed, as past attempts have shown.”

CMFR called on the press and media community to condemn the arrest and stand with Rappler, saying that the arrest is “a clear and undeniable proof of the administration’s malice and manipulation of the law” and that “an attack on the freedom of one journalist or one news organization weakens the capacity of the entire institution to report the truth and is an attack on all of us and on democracy itself.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also condemned the arrest, saying it is a “shameless act of persecution by a bully government.”

Apart from the cyber libel case, Ressa is facing 5 tax evasion cases. In December 3, 2018, Ressa posted bail at Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 265 in connection with charges that Rappler Holdings Corporation violated the tax code.