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Court to rule on Rappler cyber libel case in April

After receiving the evidence presented by Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and a former reporter, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 set the promulgation of judgment on the cyber libel case against online news site for April 3 at 8:30 a.m.

Government prosecutors filed cyber libel charges against Ressa and former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. over an article the news site published months before the Cybercrime Prevention Act was enacted in 2012.

The story cites an "intelligence report" linking businessman Wilfredo Keng, the private complainant, to human trafficking and drug smuggling.

The National Bureau of Investigation had reportedly dismissed Keng's complaint in February 2018 -- before it could reach the Department of Justice (DOJ) -- because it was filed more than a year after the story's publication.

A week later, however, the complaint was transmitted to the DOJ for preliminary investigation. Prosecutors indicted Ressa and Santos in January 2019. Trial began last July.

If convicted, Ressa and Santos would face time in prison over what prosecutors alleged was a republished version of the article in February 2014. Rappler said the 2014 update just corrected a typographical error.

Ressa and her news company faced other cases for alleged tax evasion and violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. She has repeatedly called the cases acts of harassment.  — DVM, GMA News