February 14, 2019
A MANILA court yesterday issued a warrant of arrest against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa in connection with a cyber-libel case filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng for a story the online news portal published in 2012.
The warrant issued by Manila RTC Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa was dated February 12 and served yesterday by NBI agents to Ressa at Rappler’s office in Estancia, Capitol Commons, Pasig City.
Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Ressa can post bail for her temporary liberty.
“At any rate, the simple solution is to post bail, whichever case it may be against Ms. Ressa. This is simply procedural. Ms. Ressa may post bail anytime, even before the warrant is served,” Guevarra said.
Last week, the DOJ approved the indictment of Ressa and former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. for cyber libel based on the complaint filed by Keng.
A 2012 Rappler article linked Keng to murder and trafficking of humans and drugs, citing information contained in an intelligence report from an unspecified agency.
NBI officers escorted Ressa through a phalanx of media that poured into the office of Rappler in Pasig City, when news of the agents’ arrival went viral on social media.
“People should know that the line has been crossed,” Ressa told reporters, adding she would seek bail.
Ressa was among several people named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine in 2018 for leading what it said was Rappler’s “fearless reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s propaganda machine and extrajudicial killings”, referring to his bloody war on drugs.
Presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said a crime had been committed, a court had found probable cause, and Rappler was not being penalized for its reporting.
“This is nothing to do with freedom of expression or freedom of the press,” he told news channel ANC.(A. Hachero, Malaya)