Maria Ressa: 6 arrest warrants in 2 months 'not regular'


Posted at Feb 16 2019 06:30 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2019 07:28 PM

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MANILA - Rappler chief Maria Ressa on Saturday said she believes she is getting "special treatment" from the government as she has had to post bail for six times in 2 months, which she said is "not regular."

This after Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo claimed she is seeking special treatment following her arrest for a cyber libel charge.

Aside from the cyber libel charge she posted bail for on Thursday, Ressa said she had also posted bail for 5 counts of tax evasion.

"Sec. Panelo also said he felt I wanted special treatment. Again I respect his opinions but our opinions say something about who you are. I think I am getting special treatment, a lot more cases with less time and a lot more warrants than I should be getting. Mamamahayag lang po ako," Ressa told DZMM.

"Ang dami pong mali. The big picture is that 6 na beses na po akong nagpiyansa sa loob ng 2 buwan. Hindi po regular yun, while I respect Sec. Panelo’s views, we can counter every single one of them. What we want to do is continue doing our jobs."

The Rappler chief said there were many irregularities in her arrest, including the timing of the serving of the warrant, which the National Bureau of Investigation made after 5 p.m. Wednesday, when the courts have closed for the day.

Ressa added that the judge of the night court she attempted to post bail wanted to "get a response" from the DOJ and refused her bail even if it had the power to accept it.

Freed on bail around noon Thursday after spending a night in detention, Ressa said her legal ordeal was an example of the government's "abuse of power and weaponization of the law."

Panelo, however, maintained that the rule of law was observed in the processing of complaints against Ressa.

"Yung sinasabi niya mga iregularidad, hindi totoo lahat yun, perception niya lang yun...'Yung sinasabi mong rule of law na i-observe eh in-observe nga yun sayo kasi binigyan ka ng karapatan na sagutin ang demanda sayo. Nagkaroon ng preliminary investigation," he said.

"Sinasabing weaponization, eh siya nga ang gumagamit ng batas kasi yung freedom of the press ginagamit niya laban sa gobyerno just because idinemanda siya."

Ressa also appealed to Panelo to lift Malacañang's ban on Rappler reporters from attending President Rodrigo Duterte's events.

Panelo, however, said Rappler reporters can still do their job without attending the President's events.

"Tungkol naman dun sa Rappler, kay Pia. Kahit si Pia hindi makapasok sa Malacanang, pero lahat ng katanungan ni Pia na pinadadala sa news briefing, sinasagot namin yun. Lahat ng events napapanood niya. She writes news about it so walang nabago dun," he said.

A year ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked Rappler's incorporation papers, citing its alleged violation of the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.

Malacañang then banned its reporter from covering Palace events.

Rappler, which has published stories critical of the administration, has described cases and acts against it as an attack on press freedom.