By Rigoberto Tiglao
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa continues to humiliate our nation. She has arrogantly defied our rule of law, in effect saying her stature and the West’s adulation of her place her beyond our legal system.
To this day, Rappler continues to publish the article for which she was convicted of libel, and which she claims was President Duterte’s move to suppress her website’s critical coverage of his administration.
Ressa’s allegation is such total rubbish it is amazing that Western media believed it, which explains how it was easy for the US to get the Nobel committee to award her its peace prize.
She and the writer of the article himself, Reynaldo Santos, were convicted of libel by a regional trial court in June 2020 for claiming that a businessman, Willy Keng, was a murderer.
The piece was part of a huge 2012 media campaign with Rappler’s “editor-at-large” Marites Vitug as one of its leaders, launched by the Aquino administration to demonize and remove Chief Justice Renato Corona from his post. It claimed that Keng, whom it claimed was a “shadowy” businessman, was the magistrate’s close friend and that Corona was even using his SUV.
Judge Rainalda Estacio-Mendoza, a highly regarded magistrate, pointed out in her decision that Ressa and Santos did not offer a “scintilla of proof that they verified the imputations of various crimes against the businessman.” Their only defense was that the cyberlibel law was enacted only in September 2012, months after the article was published in May 2012.
As a mere website without any hard copies, Ressa claimed they could not be charged under the law. In her arrogance though, and despite the businessman’s offer to withdraw his case if the article was taken down, Ressa continued to put it in the Rappler site, even updating it in February 2014.
She and the reporter (who left Rappler in 2013) were convicted of libel under the new cybercrime law, sentenced to imprisonment of six months to six years, and made to pay damages amounting to P500,000.
Rappler and its ally, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the opposition and the Left labeled the decision as part of Duterte’s suppression of the press. Rappler and the PDI even went on a campaign of besmirching the judge’s reputation, claiming that she was ignorant of the cybercrime law and was a Duterte stooge.
Even as she claims that the Philippines is under strongman rule, Ressa remains scot-free. She has appealed the case to the next level in the country’s court system, the Court of Appeals. If that court confirms that court’s decision, she will next run to the Supreme Court. Yet she has painted our country as one that is barely out of the Stone Age such that a president, as her Nobel Award citation stated, can “undertake a war against its own citizens.”
Guess what: To this day, and you can check it out for yourself (“CJ using SUVs of controversial businessman”), Rappler still has that libelous article posted on its website as shown in my screen grab of it in this column. That of course tells a lot about Ressa’s character, so petty and arrogant that she will not remove an article totally disproven and judged to be false.
Probably since she is an American who took on Filipino citizenship only in 2004 to be able to get her paychecks from ABS-CBN, Ressa simply spits on the decision of a court of law.
She denigrates our entire Republic by claiming that the moves of two different bodies — the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Internal Revenue — to enforce the nationality ban on foreign money in media and corporate tax laws are Duterte’s moves to silence her.
Ressa has been able to fool US and Western media, which “influencers” in that world uncritically believe, for several reasons: her being a graduate of a top US university and once a CNN correspondent, and therefore for US media, one of “theirs” bringing light and boldness to media in an underdeveloped country, an American fighting a dictator; her facility in English and her skill in broadcast media in using memorable soundbites such as her “getting 90 rape threats per minute”; even her looks, which easily elicits sympathy because of the West’s psychic guilt over its history of enslaving colored peoples.
More importantly though, Ressa is a pawn of US interests: Omidyar Network, North Base Media and the National Endowment for Democracy — accused as venues for US ideological warfare in Eastern Europe, Hong Kong and in other developing countries — inspired its original US-based Filipino investors to set up Rappler in 2012.
When the site was going deep in the red because of its use of state-of-the art internet technology (or tricks) to expand its readership, Omidyar Network and North Base media put $5 million into the company in 2015, thinking that then President Aquino 3rd’s government would look the other way in its violation of the constitutional ban on foreign money in media. NED has given it $142,000 yearly starting in 2018.
After all, Rappler was at the front of the media mob with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in bashing Chief Justice Corona, an unprecedented move in Philippine history. The opening salvo of that campaign in fact was in January 2012 (as the website went online) when its editor-at-large Marites Vitug wrote a piece, published both in Rappler and the Inquirer, claiming that Corona had cheated in getting his PhD from the University of Santo Tomas.
UST debunked that atrocious claim; neither Vitug nor Rappler apologized. Rappler in the Aquino years was the Yellow Cult’s main vehicle in the new media, never running an article critical of him and his administration.
After Duterte assumed the presidency, Rappler of course totally reversed its tack and became the Yellows’ attack dog, together with the PDI, against the President. Its biggest accomplishment in putting down Duterte was its fabrication, distorting official figures, that overstated the casualties in his anti-drug war.
Rappler’s false figure was further exaggerated by other writers such as the Columbia University professor Sheila Coronel, to reach the “30,000” figure, claimed to this day even by Western media. That apparently was the basis for the Nobel committee to believe that Duterte was undertaking a “murderous war against his own people.”
With nine months to go before the May presidential elections, and Vice President Leni Robredo, the candidate of the US puppets — the Yellows (or Pinks) — will likely to be chosen only by the country’s 3 percent elite, the Americans had to use one of its hidden cards, the Nobel Peace Prize, to catapult the convicted anti-Duterte Ressa to international stature so her rantings against him would be magnified.
However, these two will be believed only by their own class and kind.
When the election campaign period starts next year, Ressa and her Nobel rubbish will be forgotten.
She will likely quietly flee to her home in New York, perhaps even claiming she’s tired of Filipinos’ stupidity in voting in a Duterte2 government.
WATCH: Rappler’s Maria Ressa admits receiving $4.5-M from ‘investors’, also from US left-wing billionaire?