Rappler CEO Ressa appears at NBI, vows to cooperate

By , on January 22, 2018

FILE: Maria Ressa, Rappler (Seen in this PCOO photo is Rappler CEO Maria Ressa)
FILE: Maria Ressa, Rappler (Seen in this PCOO photo is Rappler CEO Maria Ressa)

MANILA — Rappler chief executive officer (CEO) and executive editor Maria Ressa on Monday appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in compliance with the subpoena it has issued against her and two others in connection with the complaint filed by businessman Wilferdo Keng regarding an article published by the news website in 2012.

Accompanied by her lawyers led by UP Law professor Jose Jesus Disini Jr., Ressa told reporters that she has no copy of the complaint but they will cooperate with any proceedings.

“We have nothing to hide. As you all can see I’m right here. We don’t have a copy of the complaint, so I don’t know what kind of questions they will ask of me but we are not afraid,” Ressa told reporters before she proceeded to the office of the NBI Cyber Crime Division.

Aside from Ressa, also summoned were former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. and businessman Benjamin Bitanga to shed light on the complaint filed by Keng for violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act in connection with the article “CJ using SUVs of ‘controversial’ businessmen” which Santos wrote and Rappler published on May 29, 2012.

Ressa and her lawyers had a closed-door meeting with the counsel for complainant Keng and officials of the NBI Cybercrime Division led by its chief, Manuel Eduarte.

Ressa described the meeting as “friendly” even as she insisted that the complaint was part of the “continuing pattern to harass and shut down Rappler and concerted effort that will have an impact on press freedom in the country.”

“That doesn’t mean that the proceedings were not friendly on a case to case basis we will continue to address it but when you look at the full pack it is really clear,” she added.

Keng’s camp furnished copies of the complaint to Ressa, Santos and Bitanga.

Eduarte said they gave Ressa, Santos and Bitanga, owner of Dolphin Fire, a company that has shares in Rappler Holdings, Inc. 10 days to submit its comment on the complaint after which the NBI will evaluate whether to pursue charges before the Department of Justice.

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the operating license of the digital media company, questioning its corporate deal with foreign investor Omidyar Network.

Following this, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II directed the NBI to investigate the media outfit over possible violation of the Constitution and other laws. (PNA)