Dispatch from Crame No. 468: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Arrest of Maria Ressa


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Like the DOJ, the National Bureau of Investigation has been reduced to a tool of oppression. This has become apparent with the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa yesterday.

It appears that NBI agents went to the Rappler offices yesterday at around 5:00pm. This betrays their intent to deprive Ressa of her opportunity to post bail, as the courts are already closed at that time, which resulted in her detention for the night.

Malinaw na malinaw na sinadya nilang arestuhin si Maria Ressa ng gabi upang siya ay gipitin at pahirapan. Malinaw rin na talagang pinilit nila yung kaso na dapat ay na-dismiss na para lang idiin ang Rappler.

The DOJ has had two clear reasons to dismiss this case. First, R.A. No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Law, of which Ressa has been charged, has not been enacted yet when the article was published. Second, the alleged article was filed way back on 2012, which makes the case, filed on 2018, invalid for being filed way beyond the one-year prescriptive period.

Sa katunayan, dinismiss na nga ng NBI ang kaso dahil lampas na sa deadline para magsampa ng kaso. Pero biglang nagbago ang isip nila nung umapela yung complainant gamit ang maling argumento. Hero na sana sila, naging zero pa.

For DOJ to give due course to this case, in spite of its clear infirmities, is demonstrative of an ongoing vendetta against the media outfit. DOJ relied on their theory that cyber libel is a continuing crime. This rule does not exist. The prescriptive period is reckoned from the date of publication. The existence of the published materials after the date of publication is immaterial in determining whether the action for libel has prescribed, whether online or in print. Kinailangan pang mag-imbento ang DOJ ng batas para lang maituloy ang kaso laban kay Maria Ressa.

Mariin nating kinokondena ang ginawa at ginagawang panggigipit ng DOJ at NBI kay Maria Ressa. Ito ay malinaw na paniniil sa kalayaan ng ating mamamahayag at pagpapatahimik sa mga taong nagsisiwalat ng katiwalian, kabuktutan at krimen na nangyayari at patuloy na nangyayari sa ating gobyerno.

Nakakalungkot at nakakagalit na nangyari ito sa buwan na naman ng Pebrero, katulad ng pag-aresto sakin noong 2017. What a stark irony that these acts of repression had to occur days before we commemorate one of our proudest moments in history, the 1986 People Power at EDSA. Democracy was restored then. Democracy is again dying now. The bearers of truth are being persecuted.

Stop the harassment of our journalists. Dismiss the case against Rappler and Maria Ressa. Defend Press Freedom. ###

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