Albay Rep. Lagman: Ressa’s conviction ‘devastating blow’ to press freedom

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that press freedom received another “devastating blow” after the conviction of Rappler’s Maria Ressa for cyber libel.

Ressa and former Rappler researcher Rey Santos were found guilty of cyber libel yesterday by a Manila Regional Trial Court which stemmed from a 2012 article that was edited in 2014.

“The purported cyber libel for which Ressa is charged with was allegedly published or committed in May 2012 but the case was filed in 2017 or only five years later. Verily, it has prescribed,” said the opposition solon.

“The conviction is a tragic commentary on the judiciary’s succumbing to the repressive campaign of the Executive,” he added.

According to Lagman, Ressa has been the victim of the Duterte administration’s “vindictive prosecution” for pursuing critical advocacy against what she perceives as “flawed policies of the administration, and her conviction is a wanton addition to these abusive reprisals.”

“Now the cruel price of free speech and press freedom is impending incarceration,” he said.

“What would be imprisoned with Ressa are critical reportage and legitimate dissent even as it would hold hostage press freedom,” he concluded.