Pimentel: Don't politicize Maria Ressa's arrest
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Saturday, February 16, said that the arrest of Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa should not be politicized.
"Alisin natin politika, pino-politicized kasi iyan," he said in a radio interview over dwIZ. "Ang puno’t dulo niyan, merong lumabas na article sa Rappler na merong nasaktan na nung binasa niya nasaktan siya kasi inakusahan siya sa being involved in a crime."
(Let's take politics out of it, it's being politicized. It stemmed from an article published on Rappler that offended someone who read it because he was accused of being involved in crime.)
The case, filed by the Department of Justice, stemmed from a complaint by businessman Wilfredo Keng, who was identified in a Rappler article as the owner of the SUV that then-chief justice Renato Corona had used during the impeachment trial.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Ressa on February 13, due to a cyber libel case against her and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. She was detained overnight in the NBI's Manila headquarters, and posted a P100,000 ($1,900) bail on February 14. Santos also posted a P100,000 bail on Friday, February 15.
Filing cyber libel, according to Pimentel, is an accepted "remedy" for certain actions. He adviced that Ressa faces the charges and let the trial takes it course.
“Paglabanan na iyan sa korte kung guilty or not guilty, (Let the court decide if they're guilty or not guilty),” he said.
Senator Richard Gordon, meanwhile, said that it's not harassment nor a press freedom issue given that the complainant is a private citizen.
"If it really comes from the admin, pagsikil sa (stiffling) press freedom pero it's between two private parties." he said.
Gordon, however, did not agree with the manner of arrest.
"Dapat ang judiciary mabilis rin, si Maria Ressa ayoko yung ginawa ng NBI na di makapag-bail dahil sarado na," he said. (The judiciary should been expeditious. I do not like what NBI did that she could not post bail because the courts were closed.)
The cyber libel charge is just one in a string of cases against Ressa as the Duterte administration slams Rappler for its critical coverage. International news groups and journalists have condemned the threats to press freedom under Duterte's watch. (READ: Maria Ressa's arrest part of broader gov't campaign, say rights groups) – Rappler.com