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‘A sad day for democracy’: Filipinos denounce guilty verdict in Rappler cyber libel case

Gaby Baizas
‘A sad day for democracy’: Filipinos denounce guilty verdict in Rappler cyber libel case
(UPDATED) Filipinos online say the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr is ‘another cut to add to the thousands’

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos online decried the guilty verdict in Rappler’s high-profile cyber libel case, dubbing the court’s decision “a tragedy for Philippine democracy.” ([EDITORIAL] Dagok sa demokrasya)

Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesa of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 convicted Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr of cyber libel on Monday, June 15. Rappler as a company was declared to have no liability.

The court sentenced Ressa and Santos to 6 months and 1 day to up to 6 years in jail. However, Ressa and Santos need not go to jail as the conviction is appealable all the way to the Supreme Court.

The cyber libel charges were filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng over a 2012 story written by Santos which raised questions about his links to former chief justice Renato Corona. (TIMELINE: Rappler’s cyber libel case)

The full decision can be accessed here.

Outrage over the verdict was swift, as Filipinos took to social media and stated the decision was “trampling on democracy.”

A number of Filipinos admitted they weren’t surprised by the verdict, but were still upset over the stifling of the free press.

#DefendPressFreedom, #HoldTheLine, #IStandWithMariaRessa, #CourageON, and Rappler also trended on Twitter on the day of the decision. Many Filipinos encouraged Ressa, Santos, and all other journalists to press on in the fight for the truth.

Here’s what other Filipinos had to say: 

Read Rappler’s statement on the conviction here.Rappler.com

Gaby Baizas

Gaby Baizas is a digital forensics researcher at Rappler. She first joined Rappler straight out of college as a digital communications specialist. She hopes people learn to read past headlines the same way she hopes punk never dies.