By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa Friday morning does not violate any of her rights as it underwent due process.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Ressa said that the arrest is in violation of the Bill of Rights under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Ressa was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 upon her arrival from the United States. She is accused of violating the constitutional requirement for mass media to be 100-percent Filipino owned.
In his Friday press briefing, Panelo reiterated that Ressa is just complaining of being arrested because she wants to be treated differently.
“That cannot be done. All warrants of arrest issued by competent courts are to be served the way it was served to her this morning. And warrants of arrests are not issued unless the courts’ judges determine there is a probable cause, which means due process has been observed,” he said.
“Probable cause was determined by the Office of the Prosecutor or the Department of Justice (DOJ). And then information has been filed and prior to an issuance of a warrant of arrest another determination by the judge handling the case will be made. And there is such a determination of probable cause. So due process has been observed,” he explained.
According to Panelo, instead of complaining that she is being harassed because Rappler has been critical of the administration, Ressa should just focus on her defense.
“She cannot be complaining that this is again a violation of press freedom. Press freedom has nothing to do with the charges against Ms Ressa. She’s charged of a crime and there is a determination of probable cause hence a warrant of arrest has been issued,” he explained.
“She should concentrate on defending herself in court. She cannot be always using the freedom of the press as an excuse to attack the administration,” he added.
Under the anti-dummy law, foreigners are prohibited from intervening in the management, operation, administration, or control of any nationalized activity. Rappler has maintained that it is 100 percent owned by Filipinos.
Ressa is facing at least nine other charges including libel and multiple counts of tax evasion. Last month, she was arrested in Rappler’s headquarters in Pasig City over cyberlibel charges. She was released the following day after posting bail.
Read more: Ressa freed after posting bail