This ain’t curtailment press freedom! RTC : Ressa guilty of cyberlibel over Rappler’s ‘malicious’ article

This ain’t curtailment press freedom! RTC : Ressa guilty of cyberlibel over Rappler’s ‘malicious’ article




The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 36 made it clear in its decision that the conviction of Rappler’s Chief executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director and one of its former researcher Reynaldo Santos’ is not an attack of press freedom by saying that the media should use its power responsibly.
The Manila RTC found Ressa and Santos guilty of cyber libel for the article over a 2012 article concerning businessman Wilfredo Keng.

Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa in her 37-page decision said there was no curtailmen tof press freedom in declaring Rappler’s Ress and Santos guilty of cyber libel since a free press must be responsible.
Rappler’s Chief executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director Maria Ressa
(photo credit to ABS-CBN News)

“In this case, the prosecution was able to establish the presence of all elements of cyberlibel,” read the court ruling.
“The exercise of a freedom should and must be used with due regard to the freedom of others. As Nelson Mandela said ‘for to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others’,” the decision read.
Among the elements of the said crime, the RTC said the article showed malice since it was published “with reckless disregard whether it was false or not.”

“In the present case, Accused Santos Jr. Wrote the subject article sans verification as to the veracity of the allegations stated therein. The article imputes various crimes upon the person of Keng which was sufficiently proven during the trial to be untrue. Thus, the Court is of the conclusion that accused Santos, Jr. did not bother to verify with any law enforcement agency whether Keng is actually involved in any of the aforementioned crimes before publishing the subject article,” read the ruling.
The two personalities were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and sentenced the two to imprisonment ranging from six months and one day up to six years.
Each of them were slapped with P200,000 fine as moral damages and P200,000 as exemplary damages.


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