Free press should rest on accountability: Ressa accuser's camp

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 16 2020 10:26 AM

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The right to freedom of the press should come with accountability, the camp of a businessman who lodged a cyber libel case against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said Tuesday, a day after she was found guilty of the crime. 

Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. face up to 6 years in prison for a 2012 article that linked businessman Wilfredo Keng to alleged illegal activities. 

Lawyer Melissa Andaya said Rappler took no action on Keng's 7-month appeal to take down or correct the article, even after Keng sent the news site a certification from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency that he was not involved in the narcotics trade.

"Nirerespeto naman iyong karapatan doon sa freedom of the press. Pero sana po tandaan din po natin na part ng freedom of the press ang accountability, na sana mas naging patas o balanse ang pagre-report nila," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

(We respect the freedom of the press. However, let's remember that accountability should be part of the freedom of the press and they should have been more fair and balanced with their reporting.) 

Watchdogs earlier said the guilty verdict against Ressa marked a dangerous erosion of press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte, whose anti-narcotics drive was the subject of Rappler's critical reports. 

Duterte's government said the case was not politically motivated and that authorities must enforce the law, even against journalists.
 
Ressa and Santos will remain free on bail and were given 15 days to appeal, according to their counsel, Theodore Te. Both were ordered to pay P200,000 in moral damages and P200,000 in exemplary damages. — With reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse 

TeleRadyo, June 16, 2020