Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima, one of the most vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, said her incarceration over drug charges and the cyber libel conviction of Rappler CEO Maria shows that the Duterte administration “will not stop at going after critics and human rights defenders.”
“Jailing me for over three years now is only one of the thousand sinister ways (to cause) fear in the hearts of Filipinos who fight for what is just and right,” said De Lima in a statement, in wake of the conviction of Ressa and Rappler writer and researcher Alfredo Santos over a cyber libel charge filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng.
The Rappler journalists were sentenced on Monday, June 15, to up to six years in jail by a Manila court.
The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 allowed bail for the journalists and ordered them to pay P200,000 in moral damages and another P200,000 in exemplary damages.
In a decision, Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa sentenced Ressa and Santos to 6 months and 1 day to up to 6 years in jail.
The Duterte administration “will not stop at going after critics and human rights defenders. To them, journalists too must be silenced. But we will not allow it,” said De Lima in the statement sent out from her detention jail at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center.
The conviction of the Rappler joornalists, according to De Lima, is but “another demonstration of the Duterte government’s weaponization of law against those who dare speak truth to power