Decrying several instances of 'harassment' by the government against them, Rappler CEO says 'folding up' not an option
MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday confirmed it filed a cyber libel complaint against news website Rappler.
NBI Director Dante Gierran said the agency filed the complaint last Friday, March 2.
He declined to give further details on the complaint and referred other questions to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, whose office he said will evaluate the merits of the complaint.
Named in the complaint were reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr., CEO and editor-in-chief Maria Ressa, and director/officers Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atienza, Dan Alber De Padua, and Jose Maria G. Hofilena.
Speaking to ANC, Ressa said the cyber libel complaint was "clearly connected to the SEC," referring to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which revoked Rappler's incorporation papers in January for alleged violation of foreign ownership restrictions in the Constitution. The news agency has sought the reversal of the ruling through the Court of Appeals.
"We’re not the first. If you look at some other examples, there were people who were buried by 300 cases…It is every single one and every single government agency that is set to try to trip Rappler or to look for loopholes or to find any thread that they can pull, is taxpayer’s money that is wasted," she told News Now.
"I enjoin the government to do its job—it’s got enough problems on its own—and to let us do our jobs as well," she said.
The NBI last month said the cyber libel complaint, filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng over an article published in 2012, had no basis.
The NBI said the the 1-year prescription had lapsed when Keng filed the case in January and that the continuous publication of an article cannot be considered as a continuing offense because the original posting is deemed as a single offense.
Also on Thursday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said it filed a tax evasion case against the news website, which has published stories critical of the administration, for deliberately failing to supply correct and accurate information in its 2015 tax return.
Although the BIR was the "sixth government agency to harass" Rappler after they were mentioned in President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address," Ressa said they are not backing down from pressure.
"We will stay the course as long as we can. For our public, thank you for the support that we have gotten. I think this is one of those existential moments and folding up for us is not an option," she said.
"When you look back in time, a decade from now, you’ll say that this is a moment that is important. We want to make sure that we’re on the right side of history," she added. - with reports from Niko Baua and Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News