'All are equal before the law,' Palace says on latest Ressa arrest


Posted at Mar 29 2019 04:14 PM

'All are equal before the law,' Palace says on latest Ressa arrest 1
Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa is escorted by police after posting bail in Pasig Regional Trial Court in Pasig City, Philippines, March 29, 2019. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA- Malacañang on Friday chided news website Rappler chief Maria Ressa for saying that her latest arrest was an issue of press freedom.

Ressa was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport early Friday in connection with her alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. She was released around noon after posting a P90,000 bail bond.

Commenting on Ressa's arrest, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo maintained that there was nothing abnormal with Ressa's arrest.

“All are equal before the law. She wants to be treated differently. That cannot be done," he told reporters in a press briefing.

"All warrants of arrests issued by courts are to be served the way it was served to her this morning and warrants of arrest are not issued unless the judges determine there is probable cause,” he added.

The case against Ressa and other Rappler executives stemmed from a National Bureau of Investigation complaint related to the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to Omidyar Network, an Indonesian company that invested in the online news website.

The Philippines, under the anti-dummy law, prohibits foreigners from intervening in the management, operation, administration, or control of any nationalized activity.

Rappler, however, has repeatedly maintained that it is "completely Filipino-owned."

Ressa on Friday vowed to face the charges thrown against her.

"I will not run away from any of this charges because I want to mark every single action the Philippine government takes," she said.

"It shows you how intolerant of journalists this government is. This is another press freedom issue," she added.

Panelo meanwhile said the veteran journalist should instead focus on defending herself in court.

“She should concentrate on defending herself in court. She cannot be always using the freedom of the press as an excuse to attack the administration,” he said.

Ressa is facing at least 9 other cases including libel, cyber libel, and multiple counts of tax evasion.