Maria Ressa conviction result of failure to defend herself

Maria Ressa

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. yesterday said the cyber libel conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was a result of her failure to defend herself.

This, Locsin  said in an interview by ANC's Headstart after he was asked about the US statement of concern on Ressa's cyber libel conviction.

Earlier, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus issued a statement calling "for resolution of the case in a way that reinforces the US and Philippines’ long shared commitment to freedom of expression, including for members of the press."

Locsin said he had explained to US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim that Ressa failed to defend herself.

"They're concerned by the verdict, but we have to explain to them and I think I've adequately explained to them that she failed to defend herself," Locsin said.

"The Philippines and US is united and stand by each other in this.. that the rule of law must prevail," the Secretary added.

He said "this decision was based on fact that she refused to defend herself," adding "after her conviction in lower court she should appeal immediately to the upper court and not please, appeal to social media and the like-minded there because this is a matter of law."

Former Rappler researcher and writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. was also found guilty in the case. Both were granted bail pending an appeal.

The complaint against Ressa and Santos stemmed from an article published on May 2012 by Rappler titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman” written by Santos.

The article  claimed that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a Chevrolet Suburban sports utility vehicle found to be registered to businessman Wilfredo Keng.

It also cited an intelligence report prepared in 2002 which allegedly stated that the businessman had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in human trafficking and drug smuggling.