Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa on Thursday posted a P100,000 bail for a cyber libel case that led to her arrest the previous day.
Ressa appeared before Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 45 Thursday morning after spending a night under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). She was released minutes after posting bail.
The case is pending before Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of Branch 46, but her staff said she was on trial duty at a Las Piñas court on Thursday.
After she was released, Ressa told reporters her overnight stay at the NBI made her "think about what this is all about:" "For me, it's about two things: abuse of power and weaponization of the law."
"This isn't just about me, and it's not just about Rappler. The message that the government is sending is very clear. And someone actually told our reporter just last night: 'Be silent or you're next.' So I'm saying and I'm appealing to you not to be silent even if -- and especially if -- you're next," she said.
A veteran journalist, Ressa was arrested for a cyber libel case filed by the Department of Justice, which indicted her and a former reporter last month over a story the news site published in 2012.
The case stems from a complaint by businessman Wilfredo Keng, who took issue with a Rappler story that cited an “intelligence report” linking him to human trafficking and drug smuggling.
Ressa and former reporter Reynaldo Santos were indicted despite their arguments that the alleged offenses were committed months before the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was enacted.
Ressa and her lawyers tried but failed to post bail before a Pasay night court Wednesday evening. Ressa’s lawyer, JJ Disini, said the Pasay metropolitan trial court judge was concerned he may not have jurisdiction to accept bail on a case pending before a regional trial court.
Disini told reporters Thursday that Ressa's counsel will file a motion to quash the DOJ's charges.
Ressa also faces tax evasion charges before the Court of Tax Appeals and a Pasig court. She has repeatedly called government charges against her and Rappler acts of harassment. —KBK/RSJ, GMA News