Maria Ressa Has Posted More Bail Money than Imelda Marcos Ever Did
The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on June 15 ruled Rappler chief Maria Ressa and reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. guilty of cyber libel. The case stemmed from a complaint filed by property developer Wilfredo Keng alleging defamation in an article published in May 2012. But this isn't the only charge that Ressa and Rappler are facing, having posted bail eight times within 14 months—according to a Twitter post by the journalist in April 2019. As of March 29, 2019, Rappler said that they have paid more than P2 million in bail and travel bonds over seven court charges since 2018.
Check out a breakdown of the bail and travel bonds that have been posted according to various media outlets:
P264,000 for five counts of alleged tax evasion
The Rappler Holdings Corporation president on December 3 posted P60,000 bail for one case of tax evasion filed before the Pasig Regional Trial Court on November 29, 2018. On December 10, 2018, she posted P204,000 bail—P60,000 for three cases of failure to file tax returns and P24,000 for one case of tax evasion—at the Court of Tax Appeals for cases filed by the Department of Justice on November 16 and 28, 2018. This amounts to P264,000 for all five counts of alleged tax evasion, which Rappler listed as P240,000 as of March 29, 2019.
P200,000 for Cyber Libel
Ressa on February 14, 2019 posted bail of P100,000 after she was arrested and brought to the National Bureau of Investigation for charges of cyber libel. The same amount was posted for reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr.
P756,000 for Alleged Violation of the Anti-Dummy Law
The Pasig City Prosecutor's Office on March 20, 2019 filed a case for alleged violations of the Anti-Dummy Law against Rappler's executives Ressa, Glenda Gloria, Manuel Ayala, James Bitanga, Nico Jose Nolledo, James Velasquez, and Felicia Atienza. All seven immediately posted bail of P90,000 each, except for Ressa who was then out of the country and immediately arrested upon landing in Manila on March 29, 2019.
Ressa also posted bail of P126,000 before a Pasig City court on April 1, as the Anti-Dummy complaint had been "split into two," according to a Rappler report.
P504,000 for Alleged Violation of the Securities Regulation Code
Rappler was also accused of an alleged violation of the Securities Regulation Code on March 20, 2019. While no warrant of arrest was issued, Gloria, Ayala, Nolledo, and Atienza posted bail at P126,000 each—for a total of P504,000. This was listed by Rappler as P512,000 as of March 29, 2019.
P300,000 Travel Bond paid to Manila Regional Trial Court
The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 in March 2019 received Ressa's travel bond of P300,000, which was initially set as P500,000 but was found "excessive." This was for various speaking and business engagements outside the country: Singapore (March 15 to 29, 2019), Italy and the U.S. (April 2 to 14, 2019), and New York (April 21 to 28, 2019).
P150,000 Travel Bond paid to Pasig Regional Trial Court
The Pasig Regional Trial Court, on the other hand, reduced the initial travel bond of P100,00 to P50,000 for the tax evasion cases.
This amounts to a total of P2.174 million paid by Rappler as a whole, with P1.030 million paid by Ressa.
Imelda Marcos in August 2019 was found guilty of seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division for using her position as Minister of Human Settlements to maintain Swiss bank accounts during her husband Ferdinand Marcos' regime. This conviction sentenced her to imprisonment of six years and one month to 11 years for each of the seven counts, with perpetual disqualification from public office. A warrant of arrest was also issued by the court.
On November 28, 2019, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division granted the former First Lady's request to avail of post-conviction remedies. She posted bail amounting to P300,000.
According to the Philippine Commission on Good Governance, the Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth "is estimated between U.S. $5 billion to U.S. $10 billion, the bulk of it being deposited and hidden abroad." That's at least P251 billion, only P170 billion of which has been recovered in the last 30 years.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.