NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday denounced the arrest of Rappler chief Maria Ressa over cyber libel charges.
Ressa, a veteran journalist and critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents who served her arrest warrant in her office in Pasig City.
“Nakakalungkot. Dine-denounce natin in the strongest terms,” Robredo told reporters after the Otso Diretso proclamation rally here.
(It's saddening. We denounce it in the strongest terms.)
“Sa panahon ngayon yung political harassment, dahil sa pagpapahayag ng saloobin; pangongontra sa ibang polisiya ay nagiging dahilan para supilin ang freedom hindi lang ng mga miyembro ng media pero ng mga tao na naglalakas ng loob [na magsalita],” Robredo said.
(Today there's political harassment because of expressing opinions; opposing certain policies becomes an excuse for suppressing the freedom of not just members of the media but also of those who dare to speak out.)
Ressa’s cyber libel case stemmed from a “defamatory” article Rappler allegedly published in 2012.
"This is something that is both expected and unexpected. We just didn’t expect it today. And we were all caught by surprise. We, of course, were upset by this arrest because we’ve long held that this case really has no basis," Rappler investigative desk editor Chay Hofileña told ANC.
"We continue reporting on major events. Of course, we know these cases are intended to intimidate us precisely because we know that’s the intent. We’re not buckling down. We continue with operations," she added.
Ressa’s camp will look for a night court and an available judge to post bail for the Rappler chief, Hofileña said.