MANILA — The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 has convicted Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos over cyber libel charges in a high-profile verdict handed down Monday, June 15.

The RTC spared Rappler as a company of any liability.

On its online report, Rappler said Ressa and Santos are posting bail of this writing.

Manila RTC Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa ruled that only Ressa and Santos are guilty of cyber libel charges.

The court sentenced Ressa and Santos to 6 months and 1 day to up to 6 years in jail over charges filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng in a case that tested the 8-year-old Philippine Cybercrime Law.

Rappler said on its report that Ressa and Santos won’t have to go to jail because the conviction is appealable all the way to the Supreme Court. Ressa and Santos are entitled to post-conviction bail while they exhaust legal remedies in higher courts.

The verdict was handed down in person during the pandemic, when the small courtroom of Branch 46 accommodated only the defendants, the complainant, one lawyer from each of the firms representing them, and 3 reporters.

Keng earlier demanded P50 million in damages from the embattled news organization, which is also facing a shutdown order from the government over its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs).

Ressa faces 7 other charges before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC), stemming from the mother case over the company’s PDRs, which the Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled to be already cured Rappler said. (ia/

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