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Ressa freed after posting bail

Updated

By Jhon Aldrin Casinas

Hours following her arrest, Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa was released from police custody after posting bail on Friday.

Journalist Maria Ressa (2nd R), is escorted by police after an arrest warrant was served, shortly after arriving at the international airport in Manila on March 29, 2019. (Photo by STR / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Journalist Maria Ressa (2nd R), is escorted by police after an arrest warrant was served, shortly after arriving at the international airport in Manila on March 29, 2019.
(Photo by STR / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The chief of the online news site Rappler was freed around noon after posting a P90,000 bail at Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 265.

“The arraignment of the accused and pre-trial conference are hereby set on April 10, 2019 at 8:30 o’clock in the morning,” Judge Maria Cheryl Laqui-Ceguera said in the release order issued by the court.

Armed with an arrest warrant issued by Judge Acerey Pacheco of the Pasig City RTC Branch 265, members of the Pasig City Police Station Warrant and Subpoena Section nabbed Ressa minutes after disembarking from her plane at Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 7 a.m. yesterday.

“To any officer of the law, you are hereby commanded to arrest the person Maria Angelita Ressa who is to be found at (address redacted) or elsewhere and who stand charged before me of the crime of violation of Sec sion 2-A of Commonwealth Act No. 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law,” Rappler quoted Pacheco in the arrest order he issued on Thursday.

“Will they actually arrest me again?! @rapplerdotcom this is insane. Such violations of the Bill of Rights and the PH Constitution,” Ressa said on a tweet Friday.

“Seriously?!?! Imagine the tax pesos wasted. #HOLDTHELINE,” Ressa said in another tweet while aboard the van of Pasig City Police going to the station.

Police Colonel Rizalito Gapas, Pasig City Police chief, told the Manila Bulletin that Ressa had undergone booking procedures at the station before being escorted by the police and a swarm of media to the court.

Ressa, together with other former and current Rappler executives were charged on Tuesday by the Pasig City prosecutor for allegedly violating the Commonwealth Act No. 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law, and the Securities Regulations Code (SRC).

“The charges stemmed from a complaint by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which narrated that Rappler violated the Anti-Dummy Law for issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to a foreign investor Omidyar Network,” the Eastern Police District said.

On Wednesday, other Rappler executives already posted bail even no arrest order was issued against them.

Meanwhile, as of writing, no arrest warrants were issued for their alleged violation of SRC.

In a statement, Rappler said its board members are “citizens of good standing in the community.”

“Issuing arrest warrants against them and journalists has a chilling effect on the freedom of speech, on business, and innovation,” the online news site said.

It added that: “Instead of encouraging business and media to pursue innovation, government is stifling such initiatives.”

“Initiated by the justice department, this latest case proves abuse of state power and the bending of the law to intimidate and harass critics,” Rappler said.

“But journalists doing their jobs will not be intimidated. We will continue to #HoldTheLine,” it concluded.

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