Department of Justice okays libel suit vs Rappler’s Ressa

February 06, 2019
Maria Ressa
Maria Ressa

GOVERNMENT prosecutors yesterday approved the indictment of Rappler’s Maria Ressa and its former reporter for cyber libel in connection with a complaint filed by a businessman several years back.

In a resolution dated Jan. 10, 2019, the Department of Justice recommended that Ressa, Reynaldo Santos Jr., and Rappler Inc. “be charged with violation of Section 4(c)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175.”

The complaint was filed by Wilfredo D. Keng over a story published in 2012 entitled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman,” referring to a vehicle reportedly used by then chief justice Renato Corona.

The Rappler reported that Keng was being investigated for illegal activities.

Meanwhile, the complaint against Manuel I. Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda M. Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atiena, Dan Alber de Padua and Jose Maria G. Hofilena was ordered dismissed since their part in the publication was not established.

“The publication complained of imputes to complainant Keng the commission of crimes. It is clearly defamatory. Under Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code, every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown. The presumed malice is known as malice in law,” the DoJ said.

“Under the ‘multiple publication rule,’ a single defamatory statement, if published several times, gives rise to as many offenses as there are publications,” it continued.