Luminate is appalled by Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa’s verdict in this baseless cyberlibel case against Maria Ressa, Reynaldo Santos Jr., and Rappler. The verdict not only willfully misapplies Philippine law but flies in the face of international law and the amicus brief submitted to the court by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye.
The evidence clearly shows there was absolutely no legal basis for the case. First, the charges apply retroactively to an article that was published three months before the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was passed. Second, the charges were filed seven years after publication of the article: far outside of the one-year limitation period for libel. Third, the cyberlibel law violates international human rights law and Filipinos’ right to freedom of expression, particularly for an article that was a fair and true report made in good faith. Fourth, the charges are based on a law that violates international standards captured in treaties which the Philippines are signatories to, by allowing Maria Ressa to be imprisoned for allegedly libelous speech.
This is yet another blatant politically-motivated attack aimed at undermining Rappler’s ability to operate and intimidating other journalists and media organisations who might dare to report objectively in the Philippines.
For all of these reasons we call on the Court of Appeals to revoke the conviction, and for the other spurious legal cases still facing Maria Ressa and Rappler to be dropped.