DOJ approves cyber libel raps vs. Rappler

By Benjamin Pulta

February 6, 2019, 1:00 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the indictment of online news site Rappler Inc. publisher Maria Angelita Ressa and a writer for cyber libel over a story published seven years ago.

In a resolution dated Jan. 10, 2019, the prosecutors recommended that Ressa, Reynaldo Santos Jr., and Rappler Inc. "be charged with violation of Section 4(c)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175".

The complaint was filed by Wilfredo D. Keng and the National Bureau of Investigation in connection with a story sometime in May 2012 entitled "CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman," referring to a vehicle reportedly used by then Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The Rappler reported Keng as being under investigation for illegal activities.

The filing of the libel case was recommended by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog and Assistant State Prosecutors Florencio dela Cruz Jr. and Jeannette Dacpano. It was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.

Meanwhile, the complaint against Manuel I. Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda M. Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atiena, Dan Alber de Padua and Jose Maria G. Hofilena was ordered dismissed since their part in the publication was not established.

In 2012, Keng requested that the article be taken down but the request was apparently turned down as the article continued to be available online.

On Oct. 11, 2017, Keng requested the NBI to investigate and take appropriate actions against the persons responsible for the publication.

"The publication complained of imputes to complainant Keng the commission of crimes. It is clearly defamatory. Under Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code, every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown. The presumed malice is known as malice in law," the DOJ said. (PNA)