Philippines

Manila court defers Ressa arraignment on cyber libel rap

Manila court defers Ressa arraignment on cyber libel rap
By Benjamin Pulta

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Friday deferred the arraignment of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa on the cyber libel case filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng.

Instead, Branch 46 Judge Rainelda H. Estacio-Montesa gave the prosecution 10 days to file their comment or objection to the motion to quash filed by Ressa’s counsels from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) — Arno Sanidad, Gregorio Viterbo Jr., former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te, and Jose Manuel L. Diokno.

The motion to quash reiterated the defense’s earlier claim that the law was not in effect when the story in question was published.

The defense is in turn was given five days to file a reply to the comment which may be filed by the prosecution to their motion to quash.

The prosecution has five days to file a rejoinder to the reply of the defense panel.

“The court expects to receive the last pleading on March 25,2019. Thereafter the motion to quash is deemed submitted for resolution,” Estacio-Montesa said in an order.

The court has reset the arraignment on April 12, 2019.

Both Ressa and co-accused, former Rappler writer Reynaldo Santos, were also present during Friday’s hearings.

In 2017, Keng filed a cyber libel complaint against Ressa and Rappler after he was named as the owner of a sports utility vehicle used by the late Chief Justice Renato Corona in the article titled, “CJ using SUVs of ‘controversial’ businessmen” published on its website. (PNA)

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