Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and ex-researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. can apply for probation over their cyber libel conviction to avoid prison time, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.

“Let’s see what the appellate court decides, but I caution of course [Ressa and Santos] that their penalty is actually subject to probation, so walang kulong iyan,” Roque said over CNN’s The Source.

But Roque warned that Roque and Santos could be jailed should they appeal their case.

“If they want, they can just apply for probation and they can be scot-free. But when they appeal and if they lose their appeal, then they have to serve time because that’s what happened to Alex Adonis,” Roque added, referring to the case of the Davao-based broadcaster who received a 54-month prison sentence for libel in 2007.

Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Monday gave a guilty verdict to Ressa and Santos for having violated the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Both were sentenced to six months and one day to six years in jail, and were ordered to pay P200,000 for moral damages and P200,000 for exemplary damages.

Ressa on Monday warned fellow journalists that her conviction was a “cautionary tale” to journalists and dissenters of the Duterte administration.

Roque, in response, called Ressa’s allegations “baseless,” citing Duterte’s history of not filing libel cases against critics and past support of Adonis.

“Hindi po [si Duterte] ang nasa likod sa panunupil diumano ng kalayaan nang malayang pananalita at pamamahayag. Iyan po ay desisyon ng ating Korte Suprema sa panahon pa ni Presidente Noynoy Aquino,” Roque said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro