MANILA - Several business groups on Monday condemned the guilty verdict on Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s cyberlibel case, calling it a “big blow to press freedom.”
The Makati Business Club, Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Filipina CEO Circle and Judicial Reform Initiative said they “express their profound disappointment” over the conviction of Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr.
The groups said the verdict “would threaten our other rights and freedoms, which are woven together to serve and protect society, especially the most vulnerable.”
“It raises alarm bells on the heels of the shut down of ABS-CBN Corp’s broadcast operations and the anti-terrorism bill that was certified urgent by and is awaiting the signature of the President that dangerously diminishes civil rights.”
The groups said the verdict, together with other recent developments have chilling effect on journalism.
“We call on citizens and public officials to focus on preserving our constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms which are so essential to rebuilding our economy and society at the soonest possible time,” the business groups said.