MANILA - A Manila court has dismissed another appeal of news site Rappler, its chief Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. to dismiss the cyberlibel case filed against them by businessman Wilfredo Keng.
In a 12-page order dated Nov. 15, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa denied the trio’s demurrer to evidence due to "lack of merit."
A demurrer to evidence, when granted by the court, would result in the dismissal of the case and eventual acquittal of the accused based on insufficiency of prosecution evidence.
The court, however, found the prosecution's evidence to be "competent and sufficient to sustain the indictment" for cyberlibel.
"It now behooves upon all the accused to adduce evidence to controvert those presented by the prosecution in a full blown trial," the order read.
The court set the presentation of defense evidence on Dec. 6.
It earlier denied the trio's motion to quash, which argued that the law did not take effect until April 2014 when the Supreme Court decision upholding the law’s validity became final and the temporary restraining order was lifted.
The complaint stemmed from a Rappler article published in May 2012 which cited an intelligence report claiming he was under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in illegal activities, such as human trafficking and drug smuggling.
Keng vehemently denied the allegations and requested that the article be taken down, which the news website refused to do so.
In February, Ressa was detained overnight over the complaint.