by LUIS MIGUEL B. ARUCAN
THE UST Journalism Society (JournSoc) released a statement on Thursday condemning the recent arrest of Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.
Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were indicted last week by the Department of Justice over a cyber libel case in connection to a Rappler article published in 2012.
“The circumstances surrounding the arrest lead us to conclude that Ressa is being singled out of her news organization’s critical coverage of the Duterte administration,” the statement read.
JournSoc questioned the manner of the arrest, which was conducted by ununiformed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents on Wednesday past 5 p.m., the end of government office hours.
“[It] could only mean that the forces behind this complaint wanted Ressa to spend a night in detention. The chilling message: This is what happens to journalists who do not toe the line,” JournSoc said.
Ressa was arrested at her office in Pasay and spent the night at the NBI headquarters before posting bail in the afternoon of Thursday.
Arrest warrant being served right now vs Rappler CEO @mariaressa. An officer part of the serving party prohibiting Rappler employees, including @reyaika, from taking photos and videos inside the office.https://t.co/i227bTxHMS https://t.co/XlGomOnFZ3
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) February 13, 2019
“This is clearly an attack against the free press, intended to silence those who are critical of the administration. The UST Journalism Society calls on all Thomasians to oppose moves to clamp down on the free press,” the statement concluded.
Rappler published an article on May 29, 2012 alleging that the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was then facing an impeachment trial, was using vehicles licensed under a controversial businessman named Wilfredo Keng.
The story cited intelligence reports suggesting Keng’s involvement in illegal activities such as human trafficking and drug smuggling. However, it was published four months before the passage of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Ressa’s arrest has also sparked outcry from foreign journalists and other critics of President Rodrigo Duterte such as CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard. F