By CNN Philippines, April 15 2019
Image Credit to CNN Philippines
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) — The arraignment for the cyber libel case against online news agency Rappler, its CEO Maria Ressa, and its former researcher will push through on Tuesday after a local court denied their appeal to junk the case.
The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46, in an order issued on April 12 and released on Monday, denied their motion to quash “for lack of merit.”
The cyber libel charge stemmed from a story written by former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos and published by the news site, where it claimed businessman Wilfredo Keng lent a vehicle to former Chief Justice Renato Corona. It also alleged Keng was involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling. The article, titled “CJ using SUVs of controversial businessman” was published in May 2012 — four months before the enactment of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
However, the story was supposedly updated and republished in February 2014 due to a typographical error. The Department of Justice indicted Rappler, Ressa, and Santos in February 2019 citing the “multiple publication rule,” saying the story is still covered by the law because the cyber crime law was already passed when it was updated.
The Manila court upheld DOJ’s earlier resolution that the prescriptive period for cyber libel is 12 years, contrary to the argument of Rappler that the one year period of prescription has lapsed.
“The instant case was filed in Court on February 5, 2019, which is well within the period of 12 years, negating the assertion raised by the Accused that the offense already prescribed,” Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa said in her order.
Ressa posted bail for the cyber libel case on February 13 after the court ordered her arrest. This only one of the string of cases filed against Rappler and the journalist.