"She is enjoying the attention too much."
I am not amused at all at those who profess to have bleeding hearts for Rappler chief executive Maria Ressa. They are trying to make her into a martyr, a crusader for press freedom. But she and her researcher/ reporter have been found guilty of cyberliber by a Manila Court, with a maximum penalty of six years in jail.
Even Vice President Leni Robredo joined in as she said that the verdict on Ressa had a chilling effect in the press. My gulay, even ABS-CBN has given its own slant to the issue, that President Duterte had something to do with the court verdict. This is not true, of course, but Ressa is capitalizing on this to project herself as a martyr.
The American press does not want to be left out. Ressa is an American turned Filipino.
The worst came from Human Rights Watch – East Asia Division, which said it was the worst blow against freedom of the press. But is press freedom really the issue here? Far from it
Rappler, Ressa and her reporter committed libel against a businessman whom it accused of favoring a justice of the Supreme Court with SUVs. This was reported first in 2012, but Rappler reported it again. I know that when a libelous statement is repeated, it is still libel. Press freedom has nothing to do with it. It is not absolute!
Rappler accused somebody of a crime, maligning his reputation.
There are three elements of libel, according to the Revised Penal Code. First, the person libeled is identified. Second, there must be an imputation of a crime or labelling of something to ruin his reputation. Third, it must be done with malice.
Clearly, the lawyers of Wilfredo Keng were able to establish these three elements. That was precisely what happened in the Maria Ressa case.
Ressa must pay for her crime! Press freedom is no excuse for committing libel.
She seems to be enjoying the comments of her supporters. It seems like being sued for and convicted of libel is some kind of badge of honor for a journalist.
I should know. I have been sued 17 times. In four of those times I went on trial, and twice, I apologized.
I expect Ressa’s camp to elevate the case to the Court of Appeals and eventually to the Supreme Court.
On the sixth hearing at the House of Representatives in connection with the 13 bills filed for the renewal of the 25-year franchise of ABS-CBN, the network’s lawyers insisted that there was nothing wrong with the creation of many holding companies by the owners.
Nothing wrong when the layering of so many corporations when the intention is to circumvent the Constitution that says only Filipinos can own and manage mass media organizations?
Let us look at the facts. First, the Lopezes organized Worldtech Holdings, which became ABS-CBN Holdings – a shell corporation with no other purpose or business of its own other than to issue Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreigners with 132,000,000 common shares.
According to the disclosure of ABS-CBN Holdings to SEC, each share cost P46.00 – a deposit of P45.90 and PDR option of P0.10.
That means that in monetary terms, there was P6.072 billion worth of shares in the hands of foreigners. One question here is whether taxes were even paid. Why was there layering of too many corporation, if not to cover their scheme using a corporate veil? PDR holders may not have the right to vote, but it is very clear that only Filipinos can own and manage mass media!
I cannot end this column without lamenting the death of a good friend, Danding Cojuangco, chairman and chief executive officer of San Miguel Corporation and founder of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
I have known Danding from way back, when he was with the Philippine Bank of Commerce. I was business editor of the Philippines Herald in the 1950s.
When Danding ran for president in 1992, he sought my support but I told him I had already committed to Eddie Ramos. I knew, however, that Danding had a good chance when former First Lady Imelda Marcos insisted on running. Ramos won that race, with Miriam Defensor Santiago claiming she was cheated.
I have always admired and respected Danding, both as a businessman and politician.
When Danding took in Ramon S. Ang as SMC’s president and chief operating officer, San Miguel got out of its core business and went into infrastructure.
I say there will never be another Danding. May he rest in peace.