June 15, 2020
Malaya Movement Statement
on the Cyber Libel Conviction
Against Maria Ressa
The Malaya Movement is outraged by the guilty verdict on Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos of Rappler. We join the Filipino people and the rest of the international community in condemning this most recent attack against press freedom and democracy in the Philippines.
The guilty verdict on Ressa and Santos is another example of Duterte’s weaponization of the law. Despite legal challenges, the Manila regional court handed down its guilty verdict in favor of Duterte crony, Wilfredo Keng. The said case was based on a Rappler article about Keng published four months before the Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 1075) became law, and was used as the basis for a suit against Ressa and Santos filed in 2017 despite that criminal legislation cannot be applied retroactively or that liability had lapsed a year after the article was published under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Clearly a stretch and a repressive interpretation of the law.
This verdict is part of Duterte’s continuing and systematic onslaught against democracy in the Philippines for the benefit of his dictatorship. Ressa and Santos’ conviction comes shortly after the rushed approval of HB 6875 (Anti-Terror Act of 2020) and the shutdown of media giant, ABS-CBN.
We, from the Malaya Movement, stand in defense of the critical role of a free press in a democratic society as it provides information to the people to better participate in democracy even if the information shines a critical light on the government. The continued harassment of Maria Ressa, Rappler, ABS-CBN, independent media organizations, and journalists throughout the archipelago only highlights the fragile ego of a government who fears being opposed or challenged.
We call on the Filipino people here in the United States and the international community to continue to speak up and loudly oppose Duterte’s attacks against press freedom and democracy. The Malaya Movement will continue to call for justice for all the journalists that have been killed or continue to be harassed and maligned as a result of this administration’s desperate attempts to silence dissent.
Defend Press Freedom!
Stop the Attacks on Journalists!
Junk the Terror Bill!