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Daughter's appointment doesn't prove personal link between Duterte, Wilfredo Keng -bizman's lawyer

Businessman Wilfredo Keng, the complainant in the cyber libel case against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr., does not personally know President Rodrigo Duterte, his lawyer said Tuesday, even amid a report that the businessman's daughter was appointed to the government.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Keng’s legal counsel Atty. Melissa Andaya said the case has no link to Duterte and just a regular complaint filed by a private individual.

“Hindi sila personal na magkakilala ni Pangulong Duterte,” Andaya said.

“Itong kasong ito walang kinalaman ang administrasyon, ang Pangulo. Ito ay simpleng kaso lang na isinampa ng isang pribaong indibidwal para lang sa sole purpose na malinis ang kanyang pangalan,” she added.

In September 2019, Philippine News Agency reported that Patricia Anne, Keng’s daughter, was appointed as member of the Philippine Commission on Women for the youth sector.

“Alam naman po nating lahat na napakaraming tao ang in-appoint si Pangulong Duterte na rekumendasyon din sa kanya ng mga tao, mga colleagues sa paligid niya,” Andaya said.

“Hindi naman ibig sabihin na — kung totoo man na appointee itong anak niya — ay kakilala nang personal ni Mr. Keng si Pangulong Duterte,” she added.

Malacañang has earlier said the younger Keng's appointment on September 16, 2019 is not related to the case.

"Walang relasyon. Ang complainant ay si Wilfredo Keng, isang private complainant who is entitled to malice in law," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told GMA News

On Monday, Ressa and Santos were convicted of cyber libel by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46. The two remain free after being granted post-conviction bail.

Government prosecutors indicted Ressa and Santos for cyber libel in January 2019 over an article published by the news site in 2012 that cites an "intelligence report" linking Keng to human trafficking and drug smuggling.

Atty. Theodore Te, lawyer for Ressa and Santos, hinted that the case seemed to have an unusual importance as two prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and not just an ordinary city prosecutor, handled it.

"Ang humarap dito, hindi lamang prosecutor ng City of Manila bagaman ang kaso ay finile sa City of Manila," Te said in a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

“Ang humarap dito, dalawang prosecutor galing DOJ. Mukhang importante itong kasong ito dahil hindi ordinaryong prosecutor ng City of Manila ang humarap," he added.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called the conviction a “dark day” for independent Philippine media and all Filipinos, saying it killed freedom of speech and of the press. --KBK, GMA News