Tag Archives: cyber libel

[Statement] The Alternative Law Groups condemns the unjust arrest of journalist Maria Ressa

Statement of the Alternative Law Groups on the unjust arrest of journalist Maria Ressa

The Alternative Law Groups condemns the unjust arrest of journalist Maria Ressa early Wednesday evening, February 13.

Ressa, CEO and executive director of Rappler, was arrested by officers from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the Rappler headquarters in Pasig City.

The arrest was in connection with a cyber libel case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over an investigative report published in May 2012, or months before the cybercrime law was enacted. The story in question linked businessman Wilfredo Keng to illegal activities such as human trafficking and drug smuggling and his supposed unethical lending of a sport-utility vehicle to former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It is a basic principle in criminal law that there is no crime if there is no law punishing it.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution prohibits ex post facto law, therefore, an act which was
not a crime when committed cannot be penalized by a succeeding law. When the
article subject of the DOJ case was published online, there was no cyberlaw in the
Philippines criminalizing such act.

Ressa spent the night in the custody of the NBI after Pasay Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Allan Ariola refused to accept the bail despite having the power to do so under Rule 114 Section 17 of the rules of the court.

Bail is a matter of right. It is a constitutionally guaranteed right. It is only in certain
instances when this right should be denied of, such as when there is conviction, for an
offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The case of Ressa does not fall under the exceptions.

It must be noted that Ressa is not yet convicted of cyber libel. Moreover, cyber libel is not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment. Therefore, by logical conclusion, Ressa is entitled to bail as a matter of right.

This is the sixth time Ressa has posted bail for one charge in about two months. The insistence of the Duterte administration to arrest Ressa amounts to nothing short of curtailing the freedom of speech and the press. This despicable move may result to a chilling effect among critics who continue to point out wrongdoings in the government.

A free press is an indispensable part of democracy. An independent and critical media serve as the public’s watchdog of a corrupt and crooked government. They hold those in power accountable and empower the public through the pursuit of truthful information.

We call on the public and civil society to join the resistance against any type of efforts in silencing the press!

#DefendPressFreedom

———–

The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) is a coalition of legal resource non-governmental organizations that adhere to the principles and values of alternative or developmental law.

These organizations have distinct programs for developmental legal assistance that is primarily concerned with the pursuit of public interest, respect for human rights and promotion of social justice.

Ateneo Human Rights Center
BALAOD Mindanaw
Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc. – ELAC
EnGendeRights
ERDA Foundation, Inc.
KAISAHAN
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
PANLIPI (TANGGAPANG PANLIGAL NG KATUTUBONG PILIPINO)
Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc.
Process Foundation Panay,inc
Rainbow Rights Philippines
SALIGAN
Tanggol Kalikasan Inc.
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB

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[Statement] Pahayag ng Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) sa Pagkaka Aresto kay Maria Ressa ng Rappler

Pahayag ng Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) sa Pagkaka Aresto kay Maria Ressa ng Rappler

Malinaw na ang pag aresto sa isang mamahayag dahil sa paggampan ng kanyang tungkulin ay gawain ng isang Duwag at Diktador. Si Maria Ressa ng Rappler ay inaresto sa kasong Cyberlibel na hindi pa naisasabatas noong nangyari ang sinasabing insidente. Maliwanag pa sa araw na pinilit ang kaso sa tangkang siya at ang kanyang mga kasamahan ay patahimikin.

Bago mangyari ang mga ito, ang Rappler ay kritikal at tuloy-tuloy na nag-ulat patungkol sa madugo at brutal na kampanyang “war on drugs” ng gobyernong Duterte, na sa kasalukuyan ay umaabot na sa daang libong naging biktima ng extra-judicial killing (EJK), illegal na pag-aresto, tortyur at ibang uri ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Dahil dito, noong 2016, ang Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ay kinuwestyon at hiningi ang mga dokumento ng Rappler upang patunayan na mga Pilipino ang mga nagmamayari nito, salungat sa pahayag ni Duterte na mga dayuhan. Ang kanilang license to operate ay pansamantalang binawi. Hindi pa nakuntento, di pinayagang makapag cover sa Palasyo ng Malacanan ang kanilang mga mamahayag. Inanunsyo din ng gobyerno na iimbestigahan ang Rappler sa kadahilanang hindi pagbayad ng $2.5m na buwis.

Maliban sa Rappler, nauna nang tinarget ni Duterte ang Philippine Daily Inquirer na pangunahing naglabas ng “Kill List”, na layuning idokumento ang mga pangalan ng mga biktima ng EJK. Hindi rin nakaligtas ang ABS-CBN, na binantaang hindi papayagang muling mag renew ng kanilang prangkisa.

Si Duterte ay determinadong kontrolin ang mga balita at itago ang kototohanan – ang patuloy na EJKs, ang korupsyon sa gobyerno at ang pagnanasa niyang maging diktador.

Ang Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) ay muling naninindigan na ang karapatan sa malayang pagpapahayag ay isa sa mga karapatang pantaong nakasaad sa Article 19 ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Ito rin ay ginagarantiya ng ating Saligang Batas, Article III Section 4. Ito ay ilan lang sa mga pamantayang dapat irespeto, pangalagaan at isakatuparan bilang obligasyon ng ating pamahalaan. Subalit imbes na ito ay protektahan, lantarang ang paglabag dito ng gobyernong Duterte.

Hindi lamang pag-aresto kay Ressa at iba pang mga kritiko ang nagaganap. Bagkus patuloy pa rin ang mga pananakot, pagbabanta at pagpatay sa mga lider komunidad at tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao. Ito ay bahagi ng isang disenyo ng gobyernong Duterte na maikubli ang katotohanan, at ipagpatuloy kabuktutan ng rehimeng ito.

Hindi akma sa panahong ito ang pananahimik. Bagkus, patuloy na ipahayag ang wasto, manindigan sa katotohanan at ilantad ang mga kasinungalingan upang hindi manaig ang karahasan at kasamaan.

Kung di tayo kikibo, sino ang kikibo? Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos?
Lumaban, Huwag Matakot!

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[Statement] Maria Ressa’s arrest, Duterte’s way to sweep truth defenders out of his way -TFDP

Maria Ressa’s arrest, Duterte’s way to sweep truth defenders out of his way

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) calls the arrest of Maria Ressa by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) an outright government persecution and harassment of human rights defenders. It is part of a grand design to resurrect a dictatorship by silencing critics and suppressing truth.

Amid the proliferation of fake information and distortion of human rights, independent media will always be a thorn in the side of a President whose plan is to sweep truth defenders out of his way.

It was a clear harassment because Maria Ressa was charged with cyber libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10175 because of an alleged libelous Rappler article which was published several months before the said law was enacted on September 12, 2012.

Maria Ressa, Rappler and all those defending truth and human rights among the media, opposition and human rights defenders have earned the ire of Duterte because they expose TRUTH, and it is the main obstacle against his brand of leadership that relies mostly on lies and deception.

We strongly believe and assert that a free press is vital for a strong democracy. A determined and independent media will always be critical to sustaining the rule of law in the country. A free press is important for people to be informed and to participate in a democracy.

Historically, media and journalists were among the institutions and individuals victimized by dictators like the late Ferdinand Marcos when he declared martial law in 1972. Maria Ressa’s arrest is a reminder for us to reflect on one of the reasons why we commemorate the February 25 people power. In 1986, the Filipino people rose as one and loudly declared: Tama Na! Sobra Na! Palitan Na!

At EDSA we declared our abomination for all the violations, the lies, the thievery of a dictatorship.

It is time again to raise our voices against the rising tide of tyranny: Tama Na! Sobra Na! Lumaban na!

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[Statement] Kaisa Ka stands up for Maria Ressa and a Free Press

Kaisa Ka stands up for Maria Ressa and a Free Press

Kaisa Ka stands up for freedom of expression and of the press. Kaisa Ka stands for Maria Ressa, a woman, a journalist, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration.

Kaisa Ka condemns the arrest of Ressa for the alleged commission of cyber libel when the alleged “acts” took place long before the passage of the Cybercrime Law.

The illegal arrest is meant to clip and render mute those who fight against the tyrannical, authoritarian and misogynist Duterte administration. This administration has already owned the Executive branch; coopted the judiciary with its selective application of the law, and has set it sights on media.

Freedom of the press and speech stand for freedom of the people, It is its stoutest weapon. Our Constitution, and all organic laws of all free states provide that “no law shall be passed, abridging the freedom of the press and that no person shall be punished except for an abuse of that freedom”.

Kaisa Ka believes in the best interest of a civilized society to have a full and free discussion of government affairs and have the liberty to comment upon the administration of government and guard against repressive measures. This can only be possible if the press is free to report and inform the public and are not sycophants of those in the halls of power.

We cannot and should not speak in whisper or exist with baited breath from fear of reprisal or censure. Kaisa Ka believes that it is our duty to bring to the bar of public opinion, the conduct of government officials whose exercise of authority is conferred by the people. It is not only our right. It is our duty.

Kaisa Ka is one with every woman, every citizen, activist and human rights defender in protest of this attack to our freedom. Together, we will not be silenced and cowed. We say no to ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE AND TYRANNY.

Break the culture of silence, violence and impunity! Free Maria Ressa!

Reference: Atty. Virginia Suarez, Chairperson –KAISA KA (0908 8159923)

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[From the web] Politically Motivated Arrest of Philippine Journalist Criminal Libel Case is Latest Attack on Maria Ressa, Rappler -HRW

Politically Motivated Arrest of Philippine Journalist
Criminal Libel Case is Latest Attack on Maria Ressa, Rappler

On Wednesday, Philippine National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Maria Ressa, the founding editor of news website Rappler, in the latest assault on media freedom by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. The arrest follows a libel case filed against Ressa under the cybercrimes law for a story the website published in 2012.

Rappler called the arrest “baseless” and vowed to “continue to do our jobs as journalists.” Rappler’s award-winning and critical coverage of the administration of Duterte, particularly its murderous “war on drugs,” has again put it in the crosshairs of the government.

The arrest was just the latest in a string of politically motivated cases filed against Ressa and Rappler. Last year, the Department of Justice brought five cases of alleged tax evasion against Ressa. She posted bail after arrest warrants were issued. Earlier, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the website’s registration, alleging that foreigners had illegally invested in the company, a charge Rappler denied.

The cases against Ressa and Rappler appear designed not only to intimidate the website, but to eventually shut it down.

The administration, its social media trolls, and government propagandists have launched repeated attacks against Rappler and its staffers, at one point banning one of its reporters, Pia Ranada, from covering the presidential premises.

Ressa’s persecution is part of a broader campaign by the Duterte administration to harass and silence critics not only in the media, but in the legislature, the judiciary, civil society, and the Roman Catholic Church. Senator Leila de Lima, a former Justice Secretary, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, and a fierce Duterte critic, was arrested almost two years ago on fabricated charges.

The Duterte administration’s attacks on such a globally prominent news outlet demand a global response. Governments concerned about the thousands killed in the “drug war” and the media’s ability to report on this and other abuses need to publicly demand Ressa’s release and the dropping of all charges.

For more HRW reporting on Maria Ressa and Rappler, visit: www.hrw.org

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[Statement] Huwag Palupig sa Pang-uusig ng Tirano, Kailangan ng Isang Demokratikong Bayan ang Malayang Pamamahayag -KILUSAN

Huwag Palupig sa Pang-uusig ng Tirano, Kailangan ng Isang Demokratikong Bayan ang Malayang Pamamahayag

Mariing kinokondena ng Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) ang pagsampa ng kaso laban sa mamamahayag na si Maria Ressa ng cyber libel at pagkaka-aresto dito. Si Ressa ang tumatayong CEO ng media outfit na Rappler. Atake ito sa malayang pamamahayag at ang isang malayang media ay isa sa mga haligi ng isang malaya at demokratikong lipunan.

Gayung pansamantalang pinalaya sapagkat nakapag-piyansa, walang duda na ito ay pagsupil sa mga kritiko, sa loob man sila ng gubyerno katulad ng sinapit ni Senator Leila De Lima at dating Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno o sa labas man tulad ng ginagawa sa Rappler at iba pang media outlets. Ayon na rin kay Ressa 6 na beses na syang nagpiyansa sa loob ng dalawang buwan—resulta ng sunod-sunod na pagsasampa ng kaso sa kanya.

Tulad ng isang hari, na hindi dapat kinokontra, ganoon na lamang ang gigil ng administrasyon sa mga kritiko sa polisiya at palakad nito.

Tingnan na lamang natin kung paano pagbawalang mangampanya ang mga empleyado ng gubyerno, habang di umano saklaw sa limitasyong ito si Presidente Duterte. Kailangan umano nya na ‘magpasalamat” kaya’t may minamanok ito at tuwirang ineendorso! Hindi ito nasasaklawan ng batas, sapagkat animo’y sya ang batas na syang dapat nasusunod.

Kritikal sa isang tirano na kontrolado ang impormasyong nakararating sa publiko. Hindi sapat na may mga troll armies na syang nagpapalaganap ng “fake news” sa internet. Kailangan ng gubyernong Duterte ang isang supil at masunuring media. At sapagkat hindi kabagang ng administrasyon, ehemplo ang sinasapit ng Rappler at ni Maria Ressa para sa ibang mga media –magdalawang-isip muna bago suwagin ang Malakanyang!

Kung may busal na sa bibig ang dapat malayang makakapagpahayag at hindi makairal na ang proseso ng batas, anung klaseng desisyon ang mabubuo sa hanay ng mamamayan?

Kritikal laluna ngayong eleksyon na magkaroon ng akses tayong mamamayan sa totoo at obhetibong impormasyon upang makapagbuo ng matalinong desisyon. Pinatunayan na ng nakaraang eleksyon 2016 na malaki ang naging papel ng mga media outfits tulad ng Rappler para dito, lalo sa larangan ng social media.Dito takot ang isang tirano – matalino at kritikal na mamamayan na syang nagtatanong at may paninindigan.

Demokrasya ang nakasalang sa tiranyang bumabalot sa ating bayan. Huwag pagapi sa pag-uusig ng tiranya. Huwag tayong manahimik sa gitna ng nagaganap sa ating bayan. Lalong kailangang magbuklod-buklod ang lahat ng demokrata upang itaguyod ang natitira pang demokratikong espasyo at nakatindig pang mga demokratikong institusyon.

Ipaglaban ang Karapatan ng Mamamayan sa Malayang Pamamahayag at isang Malayang Midya.

Ipagtanggol ang Demokrasya, Biguin ang Tiranya!

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya [KILUSAN]
Tel: (632) 7173262
Email: natlsect@kpdpilipinas.org
Web: http://www.kpdpilipinas.org
Twitter: @kilusanph
FB Page: @kilusanph

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[Statement] NBI arrest of #MariaRessa abhorrent and despotic-iDEFEND

NBI arrest of #MariaRessa abhorrent and despotic-iDEFEND

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement condemns the arrest of Maria Ressa by the NBI on Wednesday evening on charges of cyber-libel. Ressa’s arrest is the latest demonstration of how government critics are silenced in a manner which mirrors a familiar style of the late Marcos dictatorship.

For two years, Senator Leila de Lima remains incarcerated on unproven drug charges; former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was removed from her post in a Quo Waranto process riddled with irregularities and improprieties; last December Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was arrested on libel charges; the SEC revoked the registration of online news group Rappler and its reporter Pia Ranada was barred from covering the president’s activities.

Repression of political opponents and of the press by the judicial and executive branches, enabled by the legislative branch, is a trademark of Marcos’ dictatorship. Now, the same advances President Duterte’s centerpiece objective of obliterating our democratic institutions, particularly independent media. Press freedom has always been the first target of a government that’s ushering in a despot.

Ressa’s case is both a retribution for Rappler’s undaunted reporting and a warning to the rest of the media. Her arrest is timed at the start of campaigns for a much anticipated national election which is seen as a public ‘vote of confidence’ for the president. What level of irregularities or electoral violence is afoot to warrant this sort of pre-emptive measure against the press?

Attacks against Maria Ressa highlight the attacks against human rights defenders all over the country who are working for real change. Not only are they confronted with debilitating economic depression as a result of the same catastrophic policies of past administrations, they are also prevented from actively seeking solutions to these ills because the solutions involve directly challenging the powers behind those policies.

Tyranny works only when the people cower in fear and breed fanaticism. It is defeated by courage and purpose- of the people in relentless protests, raised voices, collective action, claiming their human rights. Your opportunity to take part comes around soon enough, in the local schools and polling spots in your district.

Go #ResistDictatorship #DefendHumanRights #DefendPressFreedom

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[Statement] The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) denounces the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa

The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) denounces the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. As advocates of human rights and communication rights, FMA stands by press freedom and free speech as fundamental to civil liberty, especially at a time when the very foundations of democracy are under threat.

The arrest of Ressa today, February 13, 2019, minutes before the court closes for processing bail payments, is clearly an underhanded move to harass critical media and tear down the pillars of truth. The case against Ressa rests upon a flawed interpretation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act as an ex post facto law, which is prohibited by the Philippine Constitution. Retroactive application of section 4(C)(4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act sets a dangerous precedent, especially for a crime as contentious as cyber libel.

This is not the first time that the Duterte government bared its teeth against media organizations that dare report the truth. In 2018, the administration orchestrated a series of regulatory threats to intimidate media organizations such as ABS-CBN and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. It is clear that Ressa’s arrest is not an isolated case, but rather part of a deliberate assault on our liberties, as well as an attack on strong women.

Without a free press, without a public sphere that encourages difference and dissent, individual forces increase their capacity to manipulate and monopolize public opinion. This is how authoritarian regimes are born. We cannot let any attempt to curtail press freedom succeed.

#HoldTheLine #StandWithRappler #DefendPressFreedom

THINA LOPEZ
Program Officer
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Email Address: tlopez@fma.ph

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[Statement] We will hold the line with Rappler! – Kalipunan

We will hold the line with Rappler! – Kalipunan

The Kalipunan condemns the arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa. The manner of arrest, the serving of warrant after office hour and NBI personnel preventing Rappler staff from taking video footage, bespeaks of the sinister nature with which the government is silencing its perceived enemies.

Kalipunan expresses its support and encouragement to the media outfit Rappler, and its chief executive officer Maria Ressa.

“Mr. Duterte is trying to strangulate what little press freedom we have,” Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), said. “We will not allow him to succeed! We will hold the line with Rappler,” Mata added.

“The arrest of journalist Maria Ressa is an attack on press freedom, an attack on critics of the Philippine government,” Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) and World March of Women. “It is also an attack on social movements that need a free press to push for our basic demands for jobs and justice,” Enriquez emphatically added.

“Curtailing press freedom has always been the favorite device of dictators to prevent stories that challenges their narratives from reaching the consciousness of the people. The recent arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa is the current government’s way of protecting its narrative built on broken promises,” Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), declared.

The arrest emanates from the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) recent approval of the filing of a cyber libel case against Ressa and her reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr., accordingly, for violating Section 4 (c)(4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175).

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng, who was the subject of a Rappler article titled “CJ [then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona] using SUVs of controversial businessman” — “CJ” referring to then-, who was then under an impeachment trial.

The businessman rumored to be close to the administration denied the allegation and requested that the article be taken down, but Rappler declined saying its basic press freedom.

the justice department cited “defamation” as the basis for the ruling which led to the arrest.

“The arrest is totally abhorrent in democratic societies which recognize the positive role of the press. Particularly in the case of the Philippines, excesses committed by governments were only exposed to the greater number of masses through the press, hence the Philippine press has always been at the service of Filipino people,” Soc Banzuela, National Coordinator of Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), said.

“Fortunately, we, the people are not helpless in this case. Let us use the very medium this government is trying to control—the online information,” Wilson Fortaleza of Partido Manggagawa (PM), said. “We, therefore, appeal to all freedom loving individuals to continue posting and reposting articles that challenges this draconian act, articles that shed light why this government is sacrificing the institutional press in favor of an individual businessman,” Fortaleza added.

Kalipunan calls on the people to dig deeper into the stories this regime wants to bury, and narrate them as they are.

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[Statement] Atty. Chel Diokno on the Arrest of Maria Ressa

Statement of Atty. Chel Diokno on the Arrest of Maria Ressa

As a human rights lawyer, as a Filipino, I condemn the Duterte administration’s heavy-handed attempt to arrest Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

Naniniwala tayong dapat pag may sala, may parusa. Pero sa kasong ito, malinaw na ito ay tahasang pag-atake hindi lang sa malayang pamamahayag, kundi sa buong sistema ng hustisya sa ating bansa.

Simula nang naupo sa pwesto ang administrasyong ito, wala na itong ginawa kundi habulin at gantihan—sa kahit na anong paraan, kahit pa baluktutin nila ang katarungan—ang lahat ng naglalakas-loob na tumayo at magsalita at sabihin ang katotohanan. Hindi na kayo nakontento sa dami ng trolls ninyo, gusto nyo pang sakupin ang usapan sa cyberspace. Hindi ba kayo nagsasawa sa dami ng institusyon ng bayan na walang pakundangan ninyong sinisira? Hindi ba kayo nahihiya na kung sino pa ang dapat nagsisilbi e siya pang nangunguna sa pang-aabuso sa kapwa Pilipino?

Pinapaalalahanan ko ang gobyernong ito: hindi panghabambuhay ang kapangyarihan. Pero ang katarungan, ano man ang mangyari, darating at darating yan. At nananawagan ako sa mga kababayan natin: panahon nang tumayo at magsalita. Hindi tayo ililigtas ng katahimikan. Walang ibang lalaban para sa mga karapatan natin, walang ibang lalaban para sa katarungan, kundi tayo din.

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[Statement] #BabaeAko condemns the arrest of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa on a spurious cyberlibel charge

#BabaeAko condemns the arrest of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa on a spurious cyberlibel charge.

The serving by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents of an arrest warrant past office hours is clear harassment.

Ressa is by no stretch of the imagination a flight risk. She actually returned home to squarely face the cases filed by a government intent on wreaking vengeance on critics.

The arrest clearly intends to shame Ressa. But the shame lies squarely with this vindictive government.

It is ironic that the NBI has been tasked with the arrest as it had earlier recommended the dismissal of the cyberlibel charge.

For good reason: the ALLEGED crime happened BEFORE the passage of the cyberlibel law.

The government’s insistence on pursuing the case as a continuing crime is indicative of the perverse legal gyrations it has undertaken to persecute perceived enemies, as in the cases of Sen Leila de Lima and former Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno. This government is bent on silencing the voices of women critics and activists at the forefront of the struggle against human rights violations and tyranny.

A democracy cannot exist without a free press. As our journalists fight to defend press freedom, we call on Filipinos to hold the line with them.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/BabaeAkoMovement/

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[Statement] DAKILA condemns the arrest of Rappler’s CEO and executive director Maria Ressa

We at DAKILA ardently condemn the arrest of Rappler’s CEO and executive director Maria Ressa that the NBI agents enacted earlier today.

From the tax evasion filed against her to being arrested today for cyber libel, this administration has once again exhibited its fear on strong, powerful women, its aversion to critical individuals who question the government, and its obvious affronts against our truth-bearers — the media.

Ressa’s arrest was all too malicious — carried out at a time when the courts were already closed, during the time when Rappler emboldened its campaign drive against fake news in preparation for the election period. Moreover, Ressa’s supposed cyber libel violation was over an article published on their site in May 2012 — four months before the Cybercrime Law was enacted.

The circumstances by which the politically-motivated arrest was enacted just go to show that this administration will exhaust all means to put Ressa behind bars to silence her. It shows how this administration brazenly bends and stretches the law to intimidate, persecute, harass, and attack all critical members of the press and independent media outfits, dissenters, and anyone whom this administration deems as threat.

This aggression is no longer about Ressa and Rappler. This is an attack to the entire watchdogs of our society and to the public’s paramout right to truth and information. Ultimately, when our government gets to attack the fourth estate, we are letting them attack the very foundation of our democracy.

In this crucial of times when the government capitalizes on blatant lies to silence its targets, now more than ever do we need our heralds of truth — the bona fide media.

Let us continue to #DefendPressFreedom. Let us defend it at all cost.

#StandWithRappler #StandWithMariaRessa #StandWithPhilippinePress

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[In the news] NUJP slams arrest of Rappler’s Ressa -GMAnews

NUJP slams arrest of Rappler’s Ressa

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) decried the arrest of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa over a cyber libel case, calling it a “shameless act of persecution by a bully government.”

The group questioned the charge against Ressa, which it said, was not yet in the law when the alleged offense was committed.

On Wednesday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Ressa for cyber libel over an article published on the news website in 2012. The offense is bailable.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[Right-up] End Corporate Greed, Stop Harassing Environmental Defenders By Xiou

End Corporate Greed, Stop Harassing Environmental Defenders
By Xiou

HRonlinePH new logo 2A non-government organization working against the destructive large scale mining is being indicted for Internet or e-libel through a resolution by the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office.

The Hinatuan Mining Company (HMC) earlier filed charges against Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) for issuing a press release about the mining operations in Guiuan town of Manicani Island in the Province of Eastern Samar.

The resolution submitted by Deputy City Prosecutor Patrick Noel De Dios which was approved by City Chief Prosecutor Archimedes Manabat recommends that PMPI National Coordinator Yoly Esguerra and three other staff be held responsible.

PMPI maintains that the complaint of the HMC is a form of strategic legal action against public participation and plain harassment for our organization and human rights defenders that have been helping the resistance of the community who are instrumental for the suspension of mining operations in Manicani Island.

Aside from Article 3, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution, the right to freedom of expression is protected under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Philippines is a state party. The Philippines also joined 126 other states at the UN General Assembly in adopting General Assembly Resolution 70/161, which recognizes states’ responsibility to protect human rights defenders. The UN Human Rights Council’s 21 March 2016 resolution on human rights defenders similarly recognizes the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders to express their views, concerns, criticisms and dissent regarding government policy or business activities and underlines the need for governments to take necessary measures to safeguard such dialogue.

We now insist that the Philippine government must fulfill its obligations under international law to ensure human rights defenders are protected, not punished. Our country must decriminalize libel or e-libel, which international law considers a disproportionate form of punishment for defamation-related charges. The Philippine Human Rights community is also urging HMC including concerned legal institutions to drop all unwarranted charges brought against human rights defenders.

Apart from these, the government should also effectively investigate numerous cases of violence committed against human rights defenders and hold perpetrators to account.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide that businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate. In line with this, businesses in Philippines must respect the rights of human rights defenders who exercise their fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression. Businesses should further engage in meaningful consultation and dialogue with relevant communities and stakeholders in order to identify, prevent, and address any potential adverse human rights and environmental impacts related to their activities.

PMPI 4In support to PMPI 4 (co-HR Defenders) against the Internet-Libel case filed against them by the mining company, we urge everyone to change and use the attached profile picture today. Please help spread. Thank you.

Related links https://hronlineph.com/…/press-release-taguig-fiscal-recom…/

[Press Release] Taguig fiscal recommends indictment of PMPI 4 on Cyber Libel -PMPI

Taguig fiscal recommends indictment of PMPI 4 on Cyber Libel

PMPIA TAGUIG prosecutor has endorsed the filing of cyber libel charges against a civil rights group for reporting a mining company’s operation in Manicani Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, allegedly for post-typhoon rehabilitation.

Prosecutor Patrick Noel De Dios submitted the resolution to the Taguig Prosecutors’ Office more than five months after the cyber libel complaint filed by Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) against civil society network Philippine Misereor Partnership, Incorporated (PMPI) and four PMPI personnel. HMC is a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation.

HMC’s cyber libel complaint stems from a press release of PMPI reporting a June 2015 incident where a barge hired by the mining company to carry its equipment ran over and destroyed small fishing boats off the coast of Manicani Island.

“Just like what we said on our counter-affidavit, we believe that the complaint of the HMC is a form of SLAPP [strategic legal action against public participation] and plain harassment for our organization that is instrumental why HMC’s operations in Manicani Island is suspended until now. It is sad that the prosecutor failed to see that but the fight is not over,” said Yolanda Esguerra, PMPI National Coordinator.

De Dios has recommended cyber libel charges be filed against Esguerra, as well as PMPI staff members Candy Hidalgo, Edel Garingan and Victor Morillo (together called the “PMPI 4”).

HMC’s operations in the island of Manicani have been suspended since 2002 upon the request of the Diocese of Borongan on behalf of Manicani residents due to the mining operations adverse impact on the environment. Since the early 2000s, PMPI and the Diocese of Borongan have been helping the resistance put up by islanders led by the Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI) – formerly the Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO).

“Acknowledging how powerful and connected the complainants are, we have prepared for the worst. We will not be shocked if a warrant against us will soon be issued and we are ready. In fact, we are elated with the number of lawyers and organizations that have signified their intent to help us in our case,” Esguerra said.

While the complaint was recommended to be heard in court, only one of the three counts of Cyber Libel raised by HMC will become the basis for the case.

“The prosecutor considers as libelous the PMPI report regarding the destruction of three fishing boats by the mining company’s barge,” Atty. Macki Maderazo, the PMPI 4’s legal counsel, explained.

He added that they will challenge the part of the resolution that says a mining company cannot be considered a public figure because Philippine jurisprudence and several expert legal opinions have repeatedly asserted that corporations may also fall under the public figure category.

The Secretariat
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.
Unit 204 Pacific Century Tower
1472-1476 Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon Ave. Quezon City, Philippines
Landline/Fax No.: (02) 961 5956
Mobile No.: +63 922 850 1843
Website: http://www.pmpi.org.ph/
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/philmisereor

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[In the news]Supreme Court tackles online libel provision in debates over Cybercrime Law | Sun.Star

Supreme Court tackles online libel provision in debates over Cybercrime Law | Sun.Star.
January 15, 2013

sunstar-network copyMANILA (Updated) — Justices of the Supreme Court (SC) began entertaining arguments against the constitutionality of Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 on Tuesday, as a lawyer called on Congress to finally decriminalize libel.

In discussing the demerits of online libel and cybersex, University of the Philippines professor Harry Roque said these provisions should be struck down for infringing on freedom of expression. He said the provisions are not clear and prone to abuse.

He also pitched to the justices the call of the United Nations Human Rights Committee to lessen the gravity of penalty for those who will be found guilty of libel. Instead, the offender should be accountable for civil damages, he said.

Read full article @www.sunstar.com.ph

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[Statement] Statement on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012-CLRD

Statement on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

The Philippines is again faced with another hasty legislation, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (R.A. 10175), passed with the speed of light, should be given not just a closer look but a downreaching scrutiny. A perusal of the law would warrant a declaration of unconstitutionality for the fact that it curtails basic constitutional rights not only of children but of everyone else who utilizes the cyberspace to connect with the world. The said law also runs against the principle of separation of powers.

For Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) Inc., the law in question obviously infringes on many constitutionally guaranteed rights and principles specifically on the following:

1. It curbs not only one’s right to freedom of expression, speech and press, let alone one’s right to privacy. This pertains to Section 12 of the said law, which actually allows authorities to “collect or record by technical or electronic means” communications transmitted through a computer system”. Authorities can now have access to personal data, listen or record private conversations and correspondences even without a warrant.

Section 12 contravenes the very essence of Art. III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution, particularly Sections 3 (1) on inviolability of privacy of communication, and 4 on freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, and peaceful assembly.

2. This law also criminalizes cyber libel which can be prosecuted apart from that of the traditional libel punishable under the Revised Penal Code, therefore violating the ne bis in idem principle under the general principle of international law or the rule on double jeopardy.

3. A violation of the separation of powers can also be gleaned from the law which gives the Department of Justice much jurisdiction on restricting or blocking access to computer without prior judicial determination for as long as there is prima facie evidence that said computer was used in the commission of any of the prohibited acts under it. This clearly is a function, a power exclusive to the courts and not to the executive. To encroach upon a co-equal branch’s power is not only a violation of the separation of powers but a violation of one’s right to due process.

4. The said law also exhibits vagueness particularly when it comes to the Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) jurisdiction over the acts committed in violation of the former. How can jurisdiction be determined considering that the World Wide Web or internet is so far reaching that it can even be used outside the Philippine jurisdiction. More so, how are we to determine an act that is in violation of the law from that of a casual or ordinary conversation not to mention that a mere posting of libelous comments on social media appears also to be punishable.

No right is absolute indeed but it is also guaranteed by our very Constitution that no person shall be deprived of his or her right to life, liberty and property with out due process of law and under this instance, under this law, due process is not complied with, thus it should be declared unconstitutional.

In the Philippines, there are still many crimes that needs more attention like enforced disappearance, torture, extra-legal killings, human trafficking – – these are non-derogable rights that should not be relegated to the sidelines and must be looked into. The enactment of RA 101275 reflects the government’s alleged inattention and apathy to the reigning culture of impunity, the reason why disappearance, torture, trafficking, extra-legal killings remain unbridled and no perpetrators are brought to justice, so to speak.

We call on our fellow rights defenders to remain vigilant as we call on our government to respect constitutionally guaranteed rights and repeal RA 10175.

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[From the web] Cybercrime law: Demonizing technology

Cybercrime law: Demonizing technology.

BY SEN. TEOFISTO ‘TG’ GUINGONA III
September 26, 2012

I own a Facebook page where people are welcome to make comments, positive or negative. I also own a public Twitter account where my views are published for everyone to see.

If any of my own thoughts or the thoughts expressed by people on these accounts that I own happens to offend someone, I can now be charged for libel under the newly enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Suddenly, I can be punished for expressing critical thought online or allowing my Facebook friends to do the same on my own page.

With this law, even Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, can be charged with cyber-libel!

A Cybercrime Prevention Act is necessary, but must not be oppressive.

Republic Act 10175 is oppressive and dangerous. It demonizes the computer user and extends its tentacles to a computer user’s freedom of expression and speech. In an age when decriminalization of libel is the trend, this law makes a fatal step back, toward the vault of archaic policies that cannot be made to apply to the modern man operating in a modern world.

Let me just point out the fact that we need a Cybercrime Prevention Act. Except for certain problematic provisions, this law is necessary. That’s why it is unfortunate that the overly vague and oppressive provision on libel was inserted into the law at the last minute.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

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