Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. has advised Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa to appeal her cyber libel conviction to a higher court instead of playing victim on social media.
In an interview over ANC’s “Headstart” Monday (June 22). Locsin said the rule of law must prevail in Ressa’s case.
“After her conviction by the lower court, she should appeal immediately to the upper court and not, please, appeal to social media and the like-minded there. Because this is a matter of law,” he said.
Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were convicted of cyber libel over an article linking businessman Wilfredo Keng to human trafficking and drug smuggling.
Locsin noted that Ressa refused to defend herself during the trial, instead letting other Rappler executives and employees take the stand.
“It’s the duty of a judge to render a decision on the basis of evidence presented to her, and that evidence was only presented by the prosecutor and Mr. Keng,” he said.
Asked if United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim’s statement on Ressa’s verdict could be considered interference by Washington, Locsin replied in the negative.
“No. They’re concerned by the verdict but I think I’ve adequately explained to them that she failed to defend herself,” he said.
In a June 17 tweet, Kim expressed concern over Ressa and Santos’ conviction for cyber libel. He called for a “resolution of the case in a way that reinforces the U.S. and Philippines’ shared commitment to freedom of expression, including for members of the press.”