MANILA – Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday claimed that the case of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was not about the suppression of press freedom, but rather a case of “bad journalism.”
According to Roque, The Rappler article on businessman Wilfredo Keng who had filed the cyber libel case has no basis and there was no fact-checking made.
The Presidential spokesperson said that before calling someone a criminal, you have to make sure he is a criminal. That the article has no basis for it and that in itself is the very definition of what libel is — imputation of a crime.
Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. was found guilty by Manila Regional Trial Court over a story Rappler published claiming that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using an SUV registered to Keng.
Roque also denied that President Rodrigo Duterte had an influence on the verdict, saying that the president supports press freedom and has never filed a libel case against a journalist. Ressa said that Duterte claiming that he values press freedom was a “lie at worst”. She claimed that the guilty verdict against her is also a blow to every citizen and that freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right a Filipino has.