By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima has scored anew the cyber libel conviction of Rappler founder/CEO Maria Angelita Ressa and former reporter Reynaldo Santos, Jr.
According to De Lima, the guilty verdict rendered on Ressa and Santos in connection with the 2012 cyber libel case filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng “is but another demonstration of the Duterte government’s ‘weaponization’ of law against those who dare speak truth to power.”
“They will not stop at going after critics and human rights defenders. To them, journalists too must be silenced,” she said.
Ressa and Santos were sentenced up to six-year imprisonment and were also ordered to pay fines totaling to P400,000.
The case stemmed from a 2017 cyber liber complaint filed by Keng in connection with a 2012 Rappler article which reported his lleged involvement in human trafficking activities.
Ressa’s Rappler claimed that the story written by Santos was based on an intelligence report and was published months prior to the passage and initial implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
But Keng’s camp claimed that the supposed malicious story against him was reposted sometime in 2014.
For her part, De Lima has compared Ressa and Santos’ conviction to her three-year detention for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade—an accusation the Senator described in the past as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to go after human rights advocates like her.
“Jailing me for over three years now is only one of the thousand sinister ways they are causing fear in the hearts of Filipinos who fight for what is just and right,” she added.