'You cannot violate my rights,' journalist Ressa tells justice chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2019 01:53 PM | Updated as of Feb 14 2019 02:21 PM

Rappler chief Maria Ressa and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. File

Justice chief: Cases vs Rappler 'have nothing to do with press freedom'

MANILA - Journalist Maria Ressa had strong words for Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra Thursday upon posting bail on her cyber libel case.

"You cannot violate my rights," Ressa, chief of news website Rappler, told reporters while directly addressing Guevarra.

Ressa, who was arrested and detained overnight at the National Bureau of Investigation's headquarters in Manila, urged Guevarra to uphold the rule of law amid what she decried as the state's attack on press freedom.

"DOJ Secretary Guevarra, who I thought is a professional, these are your actions. The ripple effects are what we feel in society but you don't wanna be known as the secretary of injustice," Ressa said after posting bail on Thursday.

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Ressa said that as a Filipino citizen, she also has the right to hold the justice chief accountable.

"I also have the right to hold you accountable. I am a citizen of this country and you cannot violate my rights," she told Guevarra.

Guevarra meanwhile assured Ressa that her rights would be respected and that she would be given a "fair trial."

"I assure Ms. Ressa that her constitutional and legal rights will be respected, and I trust that the court will give her a fair trial, based solely on the facts and the law, and not on arguments ad hominem and emotional rhetorics," he said in a message.

“Rappler’s cases have nothing to do with press freedom. Anyone who breaks the law shall be prosecuted. It is Ms. Ressa’s responsibility to monitor her own cases closely," he added.

Ressa was arrested in her office Wednesday night over a 2012 published article which its subject, businessman Wilfredo Keng, claimed was "clearly defamatory."

Her criminal indictment followed the filing of a separate tax suit against Rappler and the revocation of the news agency's incorporation certificate in 2018 for alleged violation of the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.

Rappler, however, has branded cases against it as an attack on press freedom. 

-with a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News