VP Robredo on the cyber libel decision against Maria Ressa: “Ang banta sa kalayaan ng isa ay banta sa kalayaan ng lahat”

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Vice President Leni Robredo described the decision of the court on the cyber libel charges against Rappler editor-in-chief Maria Ressa and former researcher  Reynaldo Santos Jr. as a “chilling development”

On Monday, Manila Regional Trial Court branch 46 convicted Ressa and Santos of cyber libel.

They were also asked to pay P200,000 in moral damages and P200,000 in exemplary damages to the complainant businessman Wilfredo Keng.

Robredo reminded the people what happened to Ressa could also happen to anyone.

“Ang banta sa kalayaan ng isa ay banta sa kalayaan ng lahat. Kung mababaluktot ang batas at mga institusyon ng gobyerno upang idiin ang isang Maria Ressa, ano pa kaya ang ibig sabihin nito para sa mga kalayaan ng ordinaryong mamamayan?”

“Alalahanin natin na hindi ito ang unang pagkakataon na ginamit ang batas para busalan ang malayang pamamahayag. Silencing, harassing, and weaponizing law against the media sends a clear message to every dissenting voice: Manahimik kayo, kung ayaw ninyong matulad sa kanila,”

According to her, information was very important amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Ressa’s Rappler is one of the media companies that delivering news to the people.

“Habang patuloy ang laban natin kontra COVID-19, kailangan natin ang malayang pahayagan, hindi lamang para masigurong nakabase sa wastong impormasyon ang kolektibo nating pagtugon, kundi para rin itaguyod ang katotohanan at paninindigan bilang mga pangunahing haligi ng ating demokrasya,” she said.

“Despite this outcome, it is incumbent upon the press, and every free Filipino, to hold fast to our courage and not be cowed into silence. Bagkus, patatagin pa sana nito lalo ang ating loob, sa patuloy nating pagpanday ng isang makatao, makatotohanan, at makatarungang lipunan,” she added.

After being convicted by the court, Ressa urged the people not to “be afraid” to exercise their rights despite what happened to her.

“Hindi lang po ito tungkol sa Rappler… tungkol po ito sa inyo. Because freedom of the press ithe foundation of every single right you have as a Filipino citizen. If we can’t hold the power to account, we can’t do anything,” Ressa said.

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