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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.”
The justice system in the Philippines is DEAD. Kaya if the government is wondering kung bakit malakas ang criticism sa anti-terror bill, dahil dito yun. Dahil mahirap mahanap ang hustisya sa Pilipinas. Sa totoo lang, nakakatakot.— Claude City (@ClaudeCity) June 15, 2020
Failed Justice System = Failed Democracy https://t.co/oQ92UWa9S9
A number of Filipinos admitted they weren’t surprised by the verdict, but were still upset over the stifling of the free press.
Are we even surprised?
I'll say this again: I hope this law and this verdict comes back to bite all you enablers in the ass when the tables are turned someday.
In the meantime, #istandwithmariaressa #protectpressfreedom #HoldTheLine https://t.co/WhkDUpqnh4
Are we even surprised?
#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.
#IStandwithMariaRessa The justice system in the Philippines has been weaponized vs press freedom. Thanks for holding the line @mariaressa Today we celebrate your continued courage #HoldTheLine #DefendPressFreedom #CourageON
#IStandwithMariaRessa The justice system in the Philippines has been weaponized vs press freedom. Thanks for holding the line @mariaressa Today we celebrate your continued courage #HoldTheLine #DefendPressFreedom #CourageON— Lynzy Billing (@LynzyBilling) June 15, 2020
Here’s what other Filipinos had to say:
Read Rappler’s statement on the conviction here. – Rappler.com