Left Menu
Development News Edition

Award-winning Philippine journalist's arrest draws condemnation, seeks bail

Award-winning Philippine journalist's arrest draws condemnation, seeks bail
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Lawyers for a Philippine news website that has locked horns with President Rodrigo Duterte sought bail on Thursday after the arrest of its chief executive on libel charges drew condemnation from free press advocates. Maria Ressa, the award-winning head of news platform Rappler, was served a warrant live on television at her office on Wednesday afternoon for what media watchdogs said were trumped-up charges aimed at intimidating journalists who challenge Duterte's rule.

Ressa's lawyer Jose Jesus Disini said he expected her to be released early on Thursday afternoon. "The only thing that could possibly delay her release is procedural," he told CNN Philippines. Ressa is accused of cyber libel over a 2012 Rappler article, which was updated in 2014, that linked a Filipino businessman to murder, human trafficking and drug smuggling. Rappler cited information contained in a 2002 intelligence report but did not say which agency compiled it.

The businessman's lawyer says the information was wrong and that the article was defamatory. Duterte has made no secret of his annoyance at Rappler and has sparred frequently with its reporters, who are known for scrutinising his polices and questioning the accuracy of his sweeping, often bellicose statements. Such scrutiny has seen Duterte's detractors engulfed by tides of online anger.

Rappler's reporting has accused his administration of creating a social media "ecosystem" designed to defend Duterte and threaten and discredit opponents, which the government denies. He once suggested Rappler was American-owned and could therefore be linked to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He called Rappler a "fake news outlet" and banned a reporter from covering his events. However, Duterte's spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said the libel case had nothing to do with the government and that Duterte had no interest in punishing journalists who challenged him. "That's absolutely unrelated. The president has been criticised and he does not bother," Panelo told DZMM radio.

Ressa spent the night in a room at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in the capital, Manila, and was unable to post bail because the court was closed. Ressa says she has been released on bail five times in the past. Francis Lim, a Rappler legal counsel, said the libel case was suddenly revived after it had originally been dismissed for lacking merit. "It means that the law can be twisted by the powers as a weapon against journalists who expose their wrongdoing to the public," Lim said in a text message. Ressa's detention was criticised by journalists and activists at home and abroad. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it was an "outrageous" arrest that "must be condemned by all democratic nations".

London-based Amnesty International said Duterte's administration was using the law to "relentlessly intimidate and harass journalists". Dabet Panelo of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it would backfire and called for protests on Friday. Rappler is no stranger to legal challenges. Its ongoing cases include one on tax evasion and another over its ownership but it denies wrongdoing.

(With inputs from agencies.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.



Conspiracy theories on COVID 19: Legislators, Scientists, and Journalists all joined the Caravan

Conspiracy theories are not new for virus epidemics. There have been conspiracy theories on HIV-AIDS, Polio Vaccines, Ebola Virus, and several other diseases as well. However, what makes the 2019 Novel Coronavirus different from others is ...

Top 10 Fake News, Myths and Realities on 2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID 19

With nearly 1500 deaths by January 14 and around 65,000 infections in China, the Novel Coronavirus 2019 has become one of the worst health epidemics of the 21st Century. However, 8,573 people have been cured but the rumor mongers are a...

Handling fake news Infodemic in time of Coronavirus epidemic

Social media has provided a platform where everybody can disseminate his her views without any supervision. Its excellent if the message is genuine but misinformation is equally disastrous. Health is such a topic where every Tom and Harry c...

Sentiment Analysis on Budget 2020: Long shot for solution to economic worries?

Industries and individuals alike had high expectations from the government to take tangible steps but the budget 2020 seems to have failed expectations....


Latest News

Pak welcomes US-Taliban agreement, hopes this will bring peace in Afghanistan

Pakistan on Friday welcomed the proposed US-Taliban agreement, hoping that all parties would now seize this historic opportunity to bring a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement for durable peace and stability in war-torn Afghani...

LG V60 ThinQ leaks ahead of official release

Mobile World Congress MWC 2020 is officially cancelled but details on upcoming smartphones have already started leaking out with the LG V60 ThinQ being the first.A render published by Android Headlines shows off the LG V60 ThinQs narrow-bez...

WHO chief says international team heading to Wuhan on Saturday (AFP) RUPRUP

WHO chief says international team heading to Wuhan on Saturday AFP RUPRUP...

Motor racing-The others are faster than us, says Ferrari F1 boss

Ferrari Formula One boss Mattia Binotto said on Friday he was less optimistic about his teams pace than he had been in testing last year and rivals were faster than them.Champions Mercedes have been impressively quick in the first week of t...

Give Feedback