Journalist Maria Ressa Arrested Yet Again As Philippines Keeps Finding Bogus Reasons To Arrest Vocal Critic

from the hold-the-line dept

As we’ve discussed before, reporter Maria Ressa is a powerhouse journalist, who started an important Filipino news site, Rappler.com. Rappler has been (quite reasonably) highly critical of the Filipino government under President Duterte, and over the past few years, the Duterte government has responded with a bunch of highly questionable criminal complaints against Ressa, which all appear to be in direct violation of the country’s 4th Amendment, which is a near carbon copy of the American 1st Amendment. It forbids any law that abridges the freedom of the press (among other things).

And yet… for over a year now, the government has been trying to claim that Rappler violated the so-called anti-Dummy law in the Philippines. Apparently, the Philippines has a law that says, in certain types of industries, Filipino companies cannot have foreign ownership (this, by itself, already seems silly, but leaving that aside…). Rappler does not have any foreign owners. However, it did receive a grant from the well known Omidyar Network, and in order to receive the grant, Rappler used a semi-complicated system called a Philippine Depository Receipt (PDR), in which the company sells these assets to Omidyar, and the assets are pegged to the value of shares in the company, but they grant no ownership benefits or rights. The Filipino government has said for a while that these create a “dummy status” in pretending Omidyar isn’t really taking an ownership stake when it is.

All of that is nonsense, though. This is entirely about intimidating Ressa and Rappler. Last month she was arrested on bogus “cyber libel” charges (over violating a law that wasn’t even a law when the supposed “libel” happened). And now, on arriving back in the country from a journalism conference abroad, Ressa was immediately arrested yet again. As Rappler notes, this is actually the 11th case filed against Rappler, its directors and its staff since the government first claimed that the Omidyar grant violated the law.

This is shameful, if not surprising, by the Duterte government. Of course, it also demonstrates just how scared they are of a tiny independent news organization. If that’s the case, it makes you wonder just what it is they’re afraid Rappler will be reporting going forward…

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Comments on “Journalist Maria Ressa Arrested Yet Again As Philippines Keeps Finding Bogus Reasons To Arrest Vocal Critic”

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22 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Sad

One thing I wonder if the left thinks about, or if Techdirt ever thinks about, is their legacy.

In the future (maybe sinner than anyone thinks) some aspiring author will document Techdirt’s legacy. From a 40,000 foot view, without any response from the Techdirt mob. What will they say?

I think Techdirt will be painted with the same brush as Obama. That is, the brush of ex-CIA Director John Brennan.

Imagine if your legacy, like Obama’s and Techdirt’s, could be laid at the feet of a very public idiot like John Brennan. That you had more in common with John Brennan than almost anyone else. One wacko conspiracy theory after another, flying in the face of every fact that everyone else understands. A public disgrace.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Phillipines are not the United States of America. She deserved to be arrested because she violated the laws in her own country. It’s up to the courts to decide if her arrest was illegal, not the court of liberal public opinion. The Phillipines, like any other country, has its own laws and we cannot attach American laws and constitutional rights to another country.

Simple fact is, she accepted funds from a foreign country, whether or not they had any ownership is something the courts will also have to determine. If you break the law, you will be arrested. The police enforce the law, the courts put those arrested through a trial or evidentiary motions and procedures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Very well put. I have never understood why Techdirt takes the time to criticize other countries that have their own laws and their own societies.

Just the over exuberant arrogance of the left on public display, I guess. They like to preach to everyone everywhere about what is right and what is wrong as if they are the ultimate arbiters.

Imagine the idiots here making the rules and enforcing their own rules worldwide. Then again, don’t, it’s too depressing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Imagine the idiots here making the rules and enforcing their own rules worldwide."

  • Stereotypes are so easy and comfortable, is it any wonder they find usage everywhere. Why bother wasting ones time even attempting to understand an issue when one can simply pigeon hole the damned thing and move onto something more to your liking.

"over exuberant arrogance of the left "

  • As if the right is devoid of all arrogance. What kind of blindness is this?

"They like to preach"

  • Who preaches? LOL Fire ‘n Brimstone is the answer to everything.

"criticize other countries"

  • What is the problem with it? Thin skin? Did Donald call your country a shit hole country? Oh wait … I thought only lefties criticized foreign countries.
Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So… So seriously? The trolls are really cheering the jailing of the press?
Not ironically. The Alt-Right folks here honestly want to see the press thrown in jail, they really want to see anti-press laws, and really don’t see anything wrong with it? Because… Sovereignty? And Duterte is such a great pal of Trump?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

The Phillipines are not the United States of America. She deserved to be arrested because she violated the laws in her own country.

Brunei is not the United States of America. Gay people deserve to be arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death because they violated the laws against homosexuality in their own country.

…and if you now cannot see how ridiculous your statement there sounds, let me spell it out for you: When a law in one country is unjust, people in another country speaking out against it can be the only way for that law and its unjust nature to be publicized. Revealing the unjustness of that law to the world can lead to other countries applying pressure to the country with the unjust law until said law is revoked. Granted, such pressuring might not work, but at least it is an attempt to do something about an unjust law.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'You can't judge me, I make the laws, not you!'

…and if you now cannot see how ridiculous your statement there sounds, let me spell it out for you: When a law in one country is unjust, people in another country speaking out against it can be the only way for that law and its unjust nature to be publicized.

Their argument really is a dictator’s best friend, as if you can’t judge a country from outside then whatever laws they have, no matter how heinous, simply gets a pass and it’s victims thrown under the bus because hey, they broke the law, they get the proscribed punishment.

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