Rappler cyber libel case places all journalists in danger: NUJP


Posted at Jun 15 2020 08:50 AM | Updated as of Jun 15 2020 08:59 AM

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MANILA - The cyber libel case against Rappler chief Maria Ressa will open up reporters to possible cases up to more than a decade, a group of journalists said Monday.

A Manila court is set to decide on Ressa's fate Monday morning for supposedly defaming Wilfredo Keng in an article published May 2012. The Anti-Cybercrime Law was enacted in September 2012.

Government has "bent over" backwards to accommodate the case, according to National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chair Nonoy Espina.

"Like extending the proscription period to 12 years from 1 year by citing an obscure law on the theory of the supposed publication by the mere correction of a single word...It’s just silly. It’s legal calisthenics, acrobatics. They actually twisted a law and turned it into a weapon," he told ANC.

"That places all of us in danger. We don’t know what article we published and someone just decided now you wronged me. That was 10 years ago but the proscription is 12 years. Lagot tayong lahat d'yan," he said.

"I think this is a part of government’s, President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s animosity towards media in general. And using these critical outfits, putting them on the chopping block to send a message to the streets: to toe the line or else."

The case will not only affect journalists but also readers, Espina said.

"I’m afraid this theory of republication is going to kill us. If you publish a story and you see a factual error you have to correct it. But if correcting it is going to open you up to multiple lawsuits, the fear, the apprehension, accuracy flies out the window.

"Pag takot 'yung editor, di niya na gagalawin 'yun. Ang kawawa ang end-user. The media consumer doesn’t get the info that they deserve."