[Statement] BALAOD Statement on the Arrest of Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

BALAOD Statement on the Arrest of Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa

BALAOD Mindanaw, Inc. denounces the unjust arrest of Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer of Rappler, by the National Bureau of Investigation at its headquarters last 13th of February 2019 pursuant to the alleged violation of Sec. 4(C)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Section 22, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that no ex post facto law shall be enacted. One definition of an ex post facto law refers to such law making an action done before the passing of the law and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action. Nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege. It is a well-founded principle in criminal law that there can be no crime when there is no law that defines and punishes it. Furthermore, lex prospicit, non respicit. The law looks forward not backward.

The arrest was founded on charges filed by the Department of Justice last May 2012 over a published article pertaining to the alleged illegal drugs and human trafficking cases of a certain businessman Wilfredo Keng. However, the specific act complained of was clearly done prior to the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act in September 2012. Therefore, there can be no crime committed at the time because there was no law prohibiting the act.

Lastly, Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution recognizes the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Consequently, this right includes the recognition of press freedom as an important and vital factor in a democratic country. The issuance of the warrant of arrest is a pronounced wonder as to how the court acquired jurisdiction over the matter when there was no violation of the law in the first place. However, the insistence of Ressa’s arrest created doubt as to whether or not the arrest was motivated for political reasons considering that the issue stemmed from the publication of the media conveying to the public certain information relating to graft and corrupt practices in the country.

We, BALAOD Mindanaw, call on the public to #DefendPressFreedom!

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