Maria Ressa posts P100,000 bail for cyber libel

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Rappler CEO Maria Ressa posted bail of P100,000 before a Manila court on Thursday, February 14, for her to be released after spending the night in detention at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

"My stay last night at the NBI really made me think what this is all about, and for me, it's about two things: It's abuse of power, and weaponization of the law," Ressa said after she was ordered released by the court past 12 pm on Thursday.

Ressa's lawyer JJ Disini went to the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) as soon as it opened Thursday morning to pay the bail set by Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesa.

Ressa was arrested past office hours on Wednesday, February 13, over one count of cyber libel. (READ: Rappler statement on Maria Ressa’s arrest: ‘We will continue to tell the truth’)

Ressa arrived at the court at 11:30 am on Thursday to personally appear before Branch 46. Coincidentally, Branch 46 Judge Montesa was serving duty at a Las Piñas court.

Montesa's pairing judge, Branch 45 Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla, processed the bail.

Ressa had to spend the night detained at the NBI headquarters after a night court judge in Pasay refused to accommodate the posting of bail, citing jurisdiction issues.

Disini said Pasay Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Allan Ariola "expressed concern" that he might not have jurisdiction as an MeTC judge, which is one level lower than an RTC which handles Ressa's case in Manila.

Manila's Judge Abadilla issued Ressa's release order a little past 12 pm Thursday.

"Our next step is to look at everything, look at all the papers that were served and not served. Why did the paper that was given to the NBI, the arrest warrant that was imperfect that didn't have information of the bail, why wasn't it executed the same day that it was given, [only] after the courts have closed?" Ressa said.

Another issue with the posting of bail at the night court on Wednesday is that the NBI agents did not possess the charge sheet that contained the judge's recommendation for the bail amount. The warrant of arrest that they possessed did not contain that detail.

Ressa's lawyer JJ Disini said the charge sheet should have been attached to the warrant when it was forwarded to the NBI for service.

The Department of Justice on Thursday said it will investigate an incident during Wednesday's arrest where an NBI agent threatened a Rappler reporter to stop recording or "we'll go after you."

"Someone told our reporter last night, be silent or you're next. I am appealing to you not to be silent, even if, and especially if, you're next. You have to express outrage like I'm doing now," Ressa said.

Ressa added: "When I look back a decade from now, I wanna make sure that I've done all I can. We will not duck, we will not hide, we will hold the line."   Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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