MANILA — Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa is entitled to her opinion but this does not mean that she is untouchable and immune from Philippine laws, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said on Wednesday.
“Maria Ressa lives in a very free society so she’s totally entitled to her views however dysfunctional those views are,” Badoy said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Badoy said Ressa’s case is totally unrelated to her “rotten” claim of suppression of press freedom.
“It’s a crime that she committed against a private citizen who filed a case against her and still it’s about press freedom?,” she said.
“It’s not even about the President. They’re saying it’s the President. In other words, what is the message of Maria Ressa here, that she’s untouchable?,” she added.
Badoy said Ressa is “so powerful” for the immediate taking down of social media accounts of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s supporters.
“I reached out to Facebook, I’m an undersecretary of the PCOO, no response until yesterday, I sent that letter about two weeks (ago). But Maria Ressa, the moment that thing came out she’s in CNN, she’s in Washington Post, she’s in New York Times, she was able to take down the accounts of Mark Lopez and another blogger because they were expressing their opinions and they were very peaceful,” she said.
Badoy was referring to blogger Mark Lopez ‘s suspension on social networking site Facebook and his accusation of Ressa getting back at him after he and another blogger picketed outside the Rappler office to air their sentiments on Ressa’s current debacles.
Lopez, in an earlier interview, said the comments section of the video of the protest posted live on Facebook was the one used by Ressa as basis to request his FB account suspension.
The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Feb. 13 issued a warrant of arrest against Ressa and Rappler writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. after being charged under the provision on content-related offenses, which include libel committed through a computer system or similar means.
This stemmed from a cyber libel complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng in October 2017, who was named by Santos in the article titled, “CJ using SUVs of ‘controversial’ businessmen”, as the owner of a sports utility vehicle used by the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Keng was being linked to drugs and human trafficking in the said article.
The article was published in 2012 and updated in 2014.
Ressa posted a PHP100,000 bail not long after she publicly denounced the Philippine justice system for allegedly persecuting her.
The PNA tried to reach out to Rappler for their reaction on Lopez’s accusations but did not get a response.
Ressa instead aired her sentiments on her Twitter account with a “Our tax pesos at work” response to PNA’s article on Lopez. (PNA)