AAJA-Asia’s Statement Condemning Conviction of Rappler’s Maria Ressa Over Cyber Libel Charges

15 June, 2020

The Asian American Journalists Association’s Asia Chapter (AAJA-Asia) condemns the conviction of Maria Ressa, Rappler’s CEO and Executive Editor, and Reynaldo Santos, former Rappler researcher-writer, over ‘cyber libel’ charges by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Monday, 15 June 2020.

The court sentenced Ressa and Santos to a minimum 6 months and one day to a maximum of 6 years in jail over charges filed by Wilfredo Keng, a Filipino businessman, about an article published by Rappler in 2012 — four months before the new cyber libel laws came into effect in the Philippines. 

Following the shut down last month of the popular news broadcaster ABS-CBN, this decision is regarded by concerned international observers, including AAJA-Asia, as the latest in a series of moves by President Duterte’s administration to intimidate and silence news media in the Philippines.

Rappler, one of the country’s most influential news websites, has been unflagging in its  reporting of the extrajudicial killings and abuses that have accompanied Mr. Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. Ms. Ressa has faced in recent months no less than 11 government investigations and court cases attempting to force Rappler to stop its reporting.

AAJA-Asia unequivocally stands in full support of Ms. Ressa, Mr. Santos and all Filipino media and journalists in this new attack against press freedom that critically undermines the right for every citizen in the Philippines to access free, independent news. We join with organizations around the world to call for an end to the prosecution of journalists who are simply doing the brave job of reporting inconvenient truths in the Philippines.  

The AAJA-Asia Board of Directors

About AAJA-Asia

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is a nonprofit educational and professional organization with more than 1,500 members across the U.S. and Asia.

The Asia chapter of AAJA represents members across the Asia-Pacific region. It is a diverse, multi-ethnic community of local and international journalists and media professionals committed to supporting a vibrant press in the Asia-Pacific region. We are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in media organizations, providing training opportunities to members, supporting students interested in journalism and advocating for fair media access.