The conviction of Rappler (an online news agency -Ed.) chief executive officer Maria Ressa and journalist Reynaldo Santos Jr. over a cyber libel case, is a brazen attack against press freedom. It comes at the heels of the recent shutdown of ABS-CBN broadcast over free airwaves. It forms part of the Duterte regime’s worsening clampdown and intimidation of the media. Thus emphasized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a statement released today.
The CPP stressed that the conviction of Ressa and (Reynaldo) Santos, (a Rappler reporter) underscores the long-standing demand of journalists to abrogate the “cyber libel” law which puts cross-hairs on journalists, critics and anyone expressing an opinion online. From the start, the Party has opposed the “cyber libel law” and has joined advocates of press freedom to decriminalize libel.
The ruling, handed down by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa, clearly serves Duterte’s campaign to intimidate and terrorize Rappler, which has actively exposed the killings and abuses perpetrated under Duterte’s drug campaign, the CPP added.
“By ordering Ressa’s conviction, Duterte ultimately intends to muffle the voices of journalists who dare criticize and expose his regime’s corruption, ineptness and fascist repression and make them bow to his tyranny,” the CPP pointed out.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) expressed solidarity with journalists, media workers and the rest of the Filipino people, in condemning the conviction. (Ma. Lourdes Barros)
NDFP International Information Office
Utrecht, The Netherlands