Palace on Maria Ressa's arrest: All are equal before law
Malacanang said on Friday all are equal before the law following the arrest of Rappler's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Ressa at the airport shortly after her arrival from the US for alleged violation of the anti-dummy law.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Ressa could not complain that the serving of warrant of arrest against her was a violation of press freedom.
"She is complaining again that she’s being arrested. All are equal before the law. She wants to be treated differently ? that cannot be done," he said.
Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, said warrants of arrest are issued by competent courts.
"Warrants of arrest are not issued unless the courts’ judges determine there is a probable cause ? which means, due process has been observed," he explained.
"So, she cannot be complaining that this is again a violation of press freedom. Press freedom has nothing to do with the charges against Ms. Ressa. She is charged of a crime, and there is a determination of probable cause, hence a warrant of arrest has been issued," he added.
The spokesman advised Ressa to concentrate on defending herself in court.
"She cannot be always using the freedom of the press as an excuse to attack the administration," Panelo stressed.
Ressa, one of the awardees of Time's Person of the Year in 2018, complained that her arrest was a violation of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Rappler, which has been critical to Duterte administration, was allegedly not fully Filipino-owned.
But the online media organization denied allegations that it is being controlled by a foreign entity.
Rappler and Ressa are also facing tax evasion cases before a regional trial court. Celerina Monte/DMS