MANILA, Philippines – As soon as she deplaned at Manila's international airport early Friday morning, March 29, Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa was arrested upon the orders of the Pasig Regional Trial Court in connection with an anti-dummy case.
Similar warrants were issued for managing editor Glenda Gloria and 5 other members of Rappler's 2016 board, namely Manuel Ayala, James Bitanga, Nico Jose Nolledo, James Velasquez, and Felicia Atienza.
This is the 7th active court case against Ressa, and the 11th case overall against Rappler, its directors, and staff within a year. This is the second time for Ressa to be arrested in less than two months.
For the anti-dummy case, Ressa, Gloria, and the rest of the board had paid a total of more than P1.52 million in bail.
Rappler Board members are citizens of good standing in the community.
Manny Ayala is a tech investor who is, among others, managing director of Endeavor; James Bitanga is a legal consultant, entrepreneur, and investor in the technology space; Nix Nolledo is a digital entrepreneur and co-founder of Xurpas, a digital goods ecommerce company; James Velasquez is PT&T president; and Felicia Atienza is a former investment banker who also founded the Chinese International School.
Issuing arrest warrants against them and journalists has a chilling effect on the freedom of speech, on business, and innovation. Instead of encouraging business and media to pursue innovation, government is stifling such initiatives.
This pattern of harassment against Rappler that started in January 2018, when the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an order revoking its license, has not stopped. (The Court of Appeals has since ordered the SEC to reevaluate its decision.)
Now it casts a wider net to go beyond Maria Ressa and target other members of the Rappler board.
Initiated by the justice department, this latest case proves abuse of state power and the bending of the law to intimidate and harass critics.
But journalists doing their jobs will not be intimidated. We will continue to #HoldTheLine. – Rappler.com