BUSINESSMAN Wilfredo Keng yesterday sought P50 million in damages against Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa over an article that claimed he allowed former chief justice Renato Corona to use his SUV, and he was allegedly involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling.
In his affidavit which he affirmed before the Manila regional trial court branch 46, Keng demanded P25 million in moral damages, and another P25 million in exemplary damages which he would supposedly donate to charity.
“I want to send the message to members of the media that they cannot simply destroy a person’s reputation and character through irresponsible, inaccurate, malicious and unjust reporting, without grave consequences,” Keng said.
He explained that half of the amount is for moral damages to compensate for his alleged physical suffering, mental anguish, besmirched reputation and wounded feelings while the remaining half is for exemplary damages, to set an example to the community.
“I want to discourage the press, such as Rappler, which is a very popular social news network, from easily spreading baseless and malicious allegations without much consideration or forethought,” he added.
In his complaint, Keng sued Rappler for cyber-libel over a May 2012 article that said he allowed former chief justice Renato Corona to use his SUV, and cited his alleged involvement in human trafficking and drug smuggling.
Citing the multiple publication rule, government prosecutors indicted Ressa, and former writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. because the article, though it was published in 2012, was republished on February 2014, hence punishable under the cyberlibel law.
Ressa contested the Department of Justice’s resolution, saying that the law did not take effect until April 2014 when the SC decision upholding the law’s validity became final, and the restraining order was lifted.