Bangkok, October 11, 2022 – In response to news reports that the Philippine Court of Appeals has denied Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa’s motion for reconsideration of her cyber libel conviction, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“CPJ laments the Philippine Court of Appeals decision against Rappler’s Maria Ressa and reiterates its call on authorities to drop the cyber libel charge,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should break with the previous government’s chronic harassment and intimidation of the free press. Dropping the cyber libel and all other pending cases against Ressa and Rappler would be a meaningful and crucial step in that direction.”
The 16-page court decision, dated October 10, ruled that the issues raised in the appeal were already resolved in the initial June 15, 2020, decision against Ressa–a Nobel Peace Prize laureate–and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr., which sentenced them each to an indeterminate prison term of between six months and one day to six years. Both are free on bail and have indicated they will appeal the ruling next to the Supreme Court, according to news reports.
“The ongoing campaign of harassment and intimidation against me and Rappler continues, and the Philippines legal system is not doing enough to stop it. I am disappointed by today’s ruling but sadly not surprised,” Ressa was quoted saying by Rappler after the Court of Appeals ruling was made public.
Ressa faces a raft of other politicized charges initiated by the outgoing Duterte administration that carry potential prison penalties, CPJ has documented with its Hold the Line Coalition partners. Ressa received CPJ’s Gwen Ifill award in 2018 in recognition of her courage in the face of persistent official intimidation and harassment.