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By Prince Golez

Malacañang has stood firm and defended the legitimacy of the criminal charges against Maria Ressa, the founder of news site Rappler.

Ressa is currently facing tax evasion cases, alleged anti-dummy and securities code violations, and cyber libel complaints.

The various allegations made against Ressa and Rappler are “founded on the Philippines’ jurisprudence and constitution,” according to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

“To claim that these are being utilized to silence and intimidate them, and that of other violators, would be a total disregard to the rule of law and due process as prescribed by our constitution,” Andanar said reacting to the September 17 resolution of the European Parliament that called on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to drop all charges against the veteran journalist.

Andanar claimed that the government still respects free speech and freedom of the press despite accusations that the law is being weaponized to silence opponents.

“The Philippines continues to enjoy a plurality of voices, expression, opinions, and beliefs; hence, the continued operations of Rappler and Ms. Ressa’s pursuit for self-justification in response to their legal obligations,” he explained.

“The Duterte Administration remains and will continue to remain concerted and composed towards the promotion of the inherent rights, freedom, and security of media workers and in observance of the rule of law and due process as part of our collective, sincere, honest, and genuine commitment to serve the Filipino people,” he also said.

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