Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa as well as former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr received cyber libel charges from the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 on Monday.
The renowned journalist has gained followers due to her fearless take on the administration’s war on drugs.
While the country has mixed opinions towards this controversy, let us first dissect what lead to the guilty verdict.
What is the article about?
The article is an investigative story exposing former chief justice Renato Corona. It states that Corona has used vehicles of a businessman named Wilfredo Keng.
Keng has alleged connections to illegal drugs and human trafficking.
What is Cyber Libel?
Based on the verdict, Ressa and Santos have violated the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or the Section 4 (c)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175. The law covers the following:
1. The allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another;
2. Publication of the charge;
3. Identity of the person defamed;
4. Existence of malice
The article was published on May 29, 2012, four months before the Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 became a law.
On February 19, 2014, it was updated to correct the spelling of the word “evasion” as well as the URL of images provided.
Is Maria Ressa guilty?
The evidence was updated years after the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was passed. With regards to this, the other party deems that the 7-year-old material has also changed its official date of publishing, which is their main reasoning.
In this case, the Ex post facto law comes into play. This means that a violation is invalid if it was committed before the law was ever enacted.
Ressa and Santos are set to six months and 1 day and up to six years of imprisonment. The verdict has allowed them to post bail P200,000 in moral damages and another P200,000 in exemplary damages. Once the verdict was finalized, post-conviction bail requires them to pay P400,000 each.