Maria Ressa Set to Go to the Supreme Court After Court of Appeals Junks Petition
Maria Ressa's legal battles over a 2020 cyber libel conviction continue. As the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's motion for reconsideration gets junked by the Court of Appeals (CA), her lawyer, former Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Theodore “Ted” Te now claims that their team will take it up with the High Court.
“The CA decision denying the MFR [motion for reconsideration] is disappointing. It ignored basic principles of constitutional and criminal law as well as the evidence presented," Te said in a statement. "Maria and Rey (Santos Jr.) will elevate these issues to the SC and we will ask the SC to review the decision and to reverse the decision."
This ruling also affirms the Regional Trial Court's conviction of Ressa and Santos earlier this year. That means that their jail time has been extended to six years, eight months, and 20 days.
The two had been charged with cyber libel by Wilfredo Keng back in 2017. In the case, the article in question was a report by Santos in 2012 that stated that then-Chief Justice Renato Corona had drove Keng's cars while the former Chief Justice was facing impeachment trials.
Associate Justices Roberto Quiroz, Ramon Bato Jr., and Germano Francisco Legaspi signed the CA ruling. The CA, nevertheless, stressed that it was in no way trying to curtail press freedom with its verdict.
It wrote: “In conclusion, it [is] worthy and relevant to point out that the conviction of the accused-appellants for the crime of cyberlibel punishable under the Cybercrime Law is not geared towards the curtailment of the freedom of speech, or to produce an unseemingly chilling effect on the users of cyberspace that would possibly hinder free speech.”
As for Ressa, she said that while the decision's outcome was disappointing, she was not exactly surprised by it.
“The ongoing campaign of harassment and intimidation against me and Rappler continues, and the Philippines legal system is not doing enough to stop it. I am disappointed by today’s ruling but sadly not surprised,” Ressa said “...This is a reminder of the importance of independent journalism holding power to account. Despite these sustained attacks from all sides, we continue to focus on what we do best – journalism.”