MANILA, Philippines – Today is a day of grief, mourning, and rage for us here at Rappler.
Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesa convicted Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Rey Santos Jr of cyber libel.
We’ve released our statement here.
The decision will not silence us. It has made us more resolute in our mission to hold power to account.
The verdict stems from a Rappler story published in May 2012, at the height of the impeachment trial of former chief justice Renato Corona and 4 months before the cybercrime law was enacted. It took businessman Wilfredo Keng more than 5 years to file a complaint against us – in October 2017, barely 3 months after President Duterte slammed Rappler in his State of the Nation Address and before other government cases and investigations were filed against us. And his lawyers used a typographical error that we corrected in 2014 as the basis for accusing us of a crime retroactively.
The businessman’s camp will drown you in details and technicalities to make you lose sight of this context. But this is pure harassment that’s meant to silence independent voices.
Today’s verdict sets a dangerous precedent not only for journalists but for everyone online. This is not just about Maria or Rey or Rappler. This is about fundamental rights of every citizen who refuses to be intimidated by the powerful who do wrong and whom they dare criticize and expose.
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Maria Ressa, Rey Santos Jr convicted of cyber libel
DOCUMENT: Decision on cyber libel conviction of Maria Ressa et al
We call on our friends, media colleagues, our community, and other advocates of a free and independent press to be vigilant and vocal now more than ever.
Together, let us continue to hold the line. Here are some ways you can do so:
Make a stand online
Don’t let the verdict silence you. Make a stand and express it online. When sharing your thoughts and call to action on this issue, make sure to use the hashtags #DefendPressFreedom, #HoldTheLine, and #CourageON.
Help Rappler continue its journalism
Support Rappler’s crowdfunding which helps fund our legal battles and our investigative stories. Visit rappler.com/crowdfunding to donate.
You can also join Rappler+, a community that offers a safe space for conversations and collaboration. Visit rappler.com/plus to learn more and sign up.
Take action in your communities and networks
If you have a statement in support of Rappler, please share them with [email protected] so we can also amplify them to our network.
We also urge you to go offline and talk to your peers, friends, and family. Share with them why this verdict is important and why it goes beyond Rappler. Here are some stories you can read and share: