Maria Ressa posts P126,000 bail for new case

Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa on Monday, April 1, posted yet another bail of P126,000 (US$2,397) before a Pasig City court in connection with an anti-dummy case that had been split into two.

Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 158 Judge Rowena Modesto San Pedro found probable cause to charge Ressa and 6 other directors of Rappler Incorporated for alleged violation of the Securities Regulation Code of the Philippines following the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to Rappler's foreign investor Omidyar Network.

Rappler has maintained that PDRs are legal financial instruments that have been resorted to by other media and do not constitute foreign ownership. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had questioned Omidyar's PDRs, saying it violated the foreign control ban on Philippine media, and used it as basis for ordering the revocation of Rappler's license in January 2018.

Rappler questioned the SEC's order before the Court of Appeals (CA), which has ruled twice that the commission should reevaluate its order given Omidyar's donation of its shares to Rappler's managers. (READ: Omidyar donates PDRs to Filipino managers)

In its first ruling in July 2018, the CA noted that Rappler should have been given time to cure whatever questionable provisions there were in the PDRs.

Pasig cases

The SEC order was used by the National Bureau of Investigation to file last year an anti-dummy violation complaint before the Pasig City prosecutor, who eventually charged Rappler's directors in March 2019.

Five of Rappler's directors already posted bail last week at Pasig City RTC Branch 265, because that was where the prosecutor's case containing two alleged violations was originally raffled to.

But Branch 265 Judge Acerey Pacheco decided to just take the anti-dummy violation at her sala. 

The alleged violation of the securities code was re-raffled, and it landed at the sala of San Pedro.

San Pedro issued the warrant against Ressa on Monday, and Ressa was able to immediately post bail. 

Pattern of harassment

This was Ressa's 8th time to post bail. Overall, Rappler and its executives and reporters are facing 11 complaints and cases filed in 14 months by the justice department. (READ: List of cases vs Maria Ressa, Rappler directors and staff since 2018)

They have paid a little more than P2 million ($38,067) in bail and travel bonds. (LOOK: How much has Rappler been asked to pay for bail and bonds?)

The pattern of harassment has not stopped, Rappler said in a statement last week. "Now it casts a wider net to go beyond Maria Ressa and target other members of the Rappler board," it added.

Other journalists and groups also decried the "judicial harassment" of Rappler. 

Aside from Ressa, the members of the Rappler board charged in both Pasig courts are managing editor Glenda Gloria, Manuel Ayala, James Bitanga, Nico Jose Nolledo, James Velasquez, and Felicia Atienza.

Only Ressa, Gloria, and Ayala remain on the Rappler board today. See the list of Rappler's current Board of Directors here– Rappler.com