NBI arrests Rappler boss Maria Ressa for cyberlibel
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Rappler editor-in-chief and founder Maria Ressa for cyberlibel at the office of the online news agency in Pasig on Wednesday
Rappler said at least four agents and lawyers from the NBI- Cybercrime Division came to serve the warrant signed by Manila Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa.
The warrant was dated February 12, 2019.
With Ressa and her lawyers, the NBI agents left around 6:30 pm and arrived at the NBI headquarters around 7:50pm.
Ressa will spend the night at the NBI office in Manila after the Pasay night court judge did not set bail, Rappler claimed.
She underwent booking process and signed the arrest warrant sheet.
“Lawyers are doing their best. Roadblocks are put in the way, the timing is suspicious,” she said in an ambush interview with reporters upon her arrival at the NBI headquarters broadcast on Rappler's Facebook page.
“If I spend the night in jail, it's fine. People should know the line was crossed. We're journalists; we'll do our job,” she added.
Ressa said she did not receive a copy of the charge sheet.
She said they will file a motion for reconsideration since the case is ridiculous calling the arrest warrant a “travesty of justice”.
“I have an arrest warrant and I have been arrested. Let's see where it goes. We will issue a statement and face it on the court,” she said.
“This is what journalists in the Philippines now have to go through,” she added.
Rappler, in a statement, said the case filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng five years ago after a story was published is preposterous and baseless.
“Maria Ressa was accused of cyber libel allegedly because she was the editor of the story that was published. She was not,” it said.
The article was published before the cybercrime law was enacted.
“No less than NBI Cybercrime Division chief Manuel Eduarte closed an investigation in February 2018 after finding no basis to proceed, given that the one-year prescriptive period had lapsed. Eight days later, however, the NBI revived the case, and filed it with the Department of Justice on the basis of a theory they call ‘continuous publication’,” it said.
Rappler said their story published on May 2012 said former Chief Justice Renato Corona used a vehicle registered under the name of Mr. Keng, who, based on intelligence reports and previously published stories, had alleged links to illegal drugs and human trafficking.
“We called Mr. Keng and got his side before the story was published,” it said.
The online news site said these actions ''puts anyone ? not just the media ? who publishes anything online perennially in danger of being charged with libel.”
“We will continue to tell the truth and report what we see and hear. We are first and foremost journalists, we are truthtellers, and we will not be intimidated,” it added. Ella Dionisio/DMS