crime and punishment

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrested by NBI for cyber libel 1 day before Valentine’s Day

It looks like Maria Ressa, 55, is spending Valentine’s Day at the National Bureau of Investigation. On February 13, 2019 at around 5 p.m., NBI agents wearing civilian clothes served an arrest warrant to the chief executive officer and executive editor of the online news site Rappler for cyber libel.

Since courts are already closed, Ressa would have to wait until February 14, 2019 before she can post bail. Department of Justice secretary Menardo Guevarra told ABS-CBN News, “At any rate, the simple solution is to post bail, whichever case it may be against Ms. Ressa.”

Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 issued the warrant. The DOJ indicted Ressa and Rappler for violation of Republic Act 10175 over an article published on the website accused of being defamatory.

Also known as Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Republic Act 10175 was approved on September 12, 2012. The Rappler article in question was originally published on May 29, 2012 but was updated on February 19, 2014.

The original version of the article is not covered by the law but the update is, the DOJ pointed out. The article mentioned businessman Wilfredo Keng and the late Renato Corona, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines impeached by the House of Representatives on December 12, 2011.

According to the article, Keng was the owner of the SUV used by Corona during the impeachment. In the same article, the businessman denied lending a vehicle to the latter.

Aside from the Rappler CEO, the DOJ also named eight other people as respondents to the cyber libel case. They are Felicia Atienza, Manuel Ayala, James Bitanga, Dan Alber de Padua, Glenda Gloria, Jose Maria Hofileña, Nico Jose Nolledo and Reynaldo Santos Jr.

Ressa was at the Rappler headquarters in Ortigas, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines when she was arrested. An officer part of the serving party reportedly prohibited Rappler employees from taking photos and videos inside the office during the arrest.

Had Ressa not arrested, she would have attended the annual campus fair at the University of the Philippines as a speaker. In 2018, she was named a Person of the Year by the TIME magazine.

Here is a video from Rappler during Ressa’s recent arrest:

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