Rappler Executive Editor Maria Ressa, whom President Rodrigo Duterte accused of being “a fraud” in a state broadcast Wednesday, said the president’s remarks were “hilarious and sad.”
“Hilarious … and sad. Focus, PH, focus,” Ressa tweeted in response to a tweet that said she took precedence over the Filipino people in Duterte’s public address meant to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.
Duterte said information on the Rappler chief, who was recently found guilty of cyber libel, was being compiled, and vowed to expose Ressa’s “incongruity.”
“Si Ressa is a fraud, maniwala kayo. Give us time. Too early for you to enjoy ‘yung mga award-award mo. You are a fraud actually. Kaya we are just compiling at this stage. And someday in bold letters, we will show your incongruity. You are a fraud,” he said.
Malacañang has said it had no hand in Ressa’s conviction and because the complaint was filed by Wilfredo Keng, a businessman, it was not an issue of the state cracking down on dissenters and suppressing press freedom.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque previously said that Keng was entitled to seek remedies under the law.
In a personal statement, Roque said Ressa’s case was unfortunate as journalists should not be locked up, “but until the law changes,” that remained on the table.
In another tweet, Ressa said Duterte was “just seeing too much fraud from where he sits.”
4 years: spewing hate on social media, manipulating Filipinos, weaponizing the law. We call a spade a spade. Was he referring to me? Maybe the President is just seeing too much fraud from where he sits. 🙂 #CourageON #DefendPressFreedom #HoldTheLine https://t.co/W6vGMMw81a
— Maria Ressa (@mariaressa) July 8, 2020
In Wednesday’s recorded address, the president said he did not read stories putting him in bad light.
“May sinabi na, ‘Nabasa mo ba ‘yung ano?’ Ika ko, ‘maganda o hindi?’ Kung hindi maganda para sa akin, huwag na. You’re wasting your time.”
Duterte also recalled the advice given to him by ex-Davao City Mayor Elias Lopez not to read local publications or listen to news reports.
“He said, ‘I’ll give you one good advice and remember this until you die as a politician: Huwag kang magbasa ng mga locals, huwag kang makinig diyan sa ano. They are no better off. Malayo ‘yan sa iyo. Kaya ganon ‘yan sila kasi wala nang magawa sa buhay nila. Hanggang diyan lang ‘yan sila.’”
Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were found by a Manila court guilty of cyber libel over a May 2012 story that linked Keng to illegal drugs and human trafficking.
While the law that penalizes cyber libel took effect after the story was published in 2012, the judge ruled that the story was “republished” in 2014 even if Rappler said only a typographical error was corrected.
The Manila court also ruled that a cyber libel case could be pursued within 12 years after publication, unlike ordinary libel that has a one-year prescription.
“We are meant to be a cautionary tale. We are meant to make you afraid. So I appeal again. Do not be afraid. Because if you don’t use your rights, you will lose them,” Ressa said after being handed the guilty charge. John Ezekiel J. Hirro