Court rejects Maria Ressa, Rappler’s appeal to junk cyberlibel case

MANILA – The appeal of online news website Rappler and its chief executive officer Maria Ressa to junk the cyberlibel case filed against them by businessman Wilfredo Keng has been denied by a Manila court.

In an order released on Monday, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa dismissed the motion to quash the appeal for “lack of merit.”

The cyberlibel case stemmed from Keng’s complaint on the news website’s article on May 2012 alleging he allowed former chief justice Renato Corona to use his luxury vehicle.

According to the respondent’s motion, the law did not take effect until April 2014 when the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the law’s validity became final and the temporary restraining order (TRO) was lifted.

However, the Manila court stated in its dismissal that the TRO merely suspended the “implementation and enforcement of Republic Act 10175 or The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, but it does not suspend its effectivity.”

“So while crimes committed during the said period cannot be prosecuted during the effectivity of the TRO, they may be prosecuted after the lifting of the same just like what is done in this case,” the court added.

The order dismissed Rappler’s invocation of the supposed misapplication of multiple publication rule saying all the elements of cyberlibel were alleged.

The court sided with the Department of Justice’s position on the prescriptive period for cyberlibel which is 12 years, contrary to Rappler’s one year under the revised penal code.

“The re-publishing of the article is the illegal act imputed to Rappler Inc., as the publishing platform of the article, which accusation as supported by the prosecutor’s resolution and attached documents, the court finds probable cause to proceed with the trial of the case,” the order further said.

With the rejection of the respondent’s motion to quash, the arraignment will push through this morning, April 16 at 8:30 a.m./PN


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