On February 22, 2018, the National Bureau of Investigation junked a cyber libel complaint filed against us by businessman Wilfredo Keng over a story published in 2012. No less than NBI Cybercrime Division chief Manuel Antonio Eduarte declared then: “We have closed the investigation after finding no basis.”
The NBI’s legal and evaluation service found that the one-year prescriptive period for libel had lapsed with the complaint filed 5 years after the publication of the story. Also, the story was published 4 months before the cybercrime law was enacted. We had reported that criminal laws are not retroactive.
Fast forward to March 2, 2018. The NBI reverses itself and transmits to the Department of Justice (DOJ) a letter recommending the filing of a cyber libel complaint against us. As party to the case, we are not provided any notice, the letter was only leaked to the media, yet the NBI, to date, has refused to speak with our reporter about it.
Why would the NBI risk its credibility and reputation, and reverse its earlier ruling? Are there instructions from higher-ups whom NBI officials could not say no to?
NBI, BIR, SEC: What’s next?
The news on the filing of this revived cyber libel complaint came on the same day that the the Bureau of Internal Revenue announced it had filed a tax evasion complaint against Rappler Holdings Corporation before the DOJ. The BIR arrived at this decision only 3 days after it delivered to Rappler on March 5 a notice requesting for various documents, which have yet to be submitted for assessment and investigation.
These developments happened barely two weeks after Malacañang banned Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa and reporter Pia Ranada from covering the Office of the President and entering Palace grounds. On March 6, that ban was extended to presidential events outside Malacañang.
Last January, the Securities and Exchange Commission – after a short probe requested by Solicitor General Jose Calida – ruled that Rappler violated constitutional restrictions on ownership, and ordered the revocation of our license – a decision that’s on appeal with the Court of Appeals. (READ: Solicitor General initiated SEC investigation into Rappler)
The Duterte administration is mustering State resources at the risk of grave embarrassment and accusations of arbitrariness and brazen harassment. What is this government so afraid of? – Rappler.com