RAPPLER, INC. founder Maria A. Ressa has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to reconsider her conviction for cyber-libel.
In a 32-page motion, the Nobel Peace Prize awardee said the appellate court had erred in applying the law on cyber-libel retroactively. She said the court had extended the period within which a person may be charged with the crime to 15 years instead of the one year mandated by the Revised Penal Code.
“It is abundantly clear that this court is well aware of the presence of competing interpretations of the law on libel,” she said. “Yet, when this case called for the application of these fundamental principles, this court did the exact opposite and adopted interpretations of the law and of facts that are most prejudicial to the accused.”
The court on July 7 affirmed a Manila trial court ruling that convicted Ms. Ressa of cyber-libel over a 2012 article on the news website that claimed a businessman was involved in crimes such as human trafficking, murder and drug trafficking.
The decision added eight months and 20 days to the initial six-year sentence handed by the trial court, saying the article was malicious and defamatory.
Ms. Ressa and her former researcher, Reynaldo Santos, Jr. argued that the published story was a “logical conclusion of journalistic duty.” She also said the law took effect four months after the article was published.
The appellate court disagreed, noting that the news website later updated the story to fix a typographical error. But the defendants said correcting an error did not mean republishing the article.
Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission upheld the closure of Rappler for allegedly violating restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media.
Human rights lawyer Amal A. Clooney earlier denounced Ms. Ressa’s conviction, saying the news article had been written in good faith and should be protected by free speech. — John Victor D. Ordoñez