President Rodrigo Duterte is just doing his job when he claimed that he is compiling evidence against award-winning journalist and Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa, his official spokesman Harry Roque said in today’s Malacañang virtual media presser.
Asked why the president was collecting supposed pieces of evidence to prove that Ressa had committed a wrongdoing, Roque told the public to wait for the results of the investigation.
“Well, that is the job of the executive, to enforce the law. Let us allow the investigation to push through, and we will release it at the right time,” the presidential spokesman said in Filipino.
Roque added that he could not say if Duterte is looking to file charges against Ressa, whom he called a “fraud.”
“I don’t have to annotate what the President says [in his speeches]. He is preparing something, let us wait for what he is preparing,” the Duterte mouthpiece said.
Apart from expensing energy trying to pin down the celebrated news boss, perhaps a more important aspect of Duterte’s actual job is effectively responding to the steady increase of COVID-19 cases in the country, which as of yesterday has hit at least 50,359 cases.
If you ask us, those cases needs a lot more focus, but hey, what do we know?
Ressa defended herself from the president’s accusation of deception by tweeting yesterday, “Was he referring to me? Maybe the President is just seeing too much fraud where he sits.”
Currently out on bail, Ressa said that Duterte has been employing the same tactics since he was elected president in 2016.
“4 years: spewing hate on social media, manipulating Filipinos, weaponizing the law. We call a spade a spade,” the veteran journalist wrote.
4 years: spewing hate on social media, manipulating Filipinos, weaponizing the law. We call a spade a spade. Was he referring to me? Maybe the President is just seeing too much fraud from where he sits. 🙂 #CourageON #DefendPressFreedom #HoldTheLine https://t.co/W6vGMMw81a
— Maria Ressa (@mariaressa) July 8, 2020
Ressa, along with former Rappler writer Reynaldo Santos, was convicted of cyberlibel for a 2012 report which alleged that businessman Wilfredo Keng loaned vehicles to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. Keng has denied this allegation and filed a complaint against the two five years after the publication of the article.
Aside from cyberlibel, Ressa is also being sued for alleged tax evasion and for supposedly violating the country’s laws which forbid foreign ownership in media. She believes that the charges are politically motivated.
Duterte himself has said that he avoids reading Rappler because it supposedly portrays him in a negative light.
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