A major stockholder of Rappler invited the libeled businessman Wilfred Keng to invest P100 million in the firm in 2014, according to a source close to the businessman. Keng recently won the libel case he filed against Rappler’s Executive Editor and Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa and the purported writer of the piece.
Keng declined the offer to invest in the website A few weeks after that meeting, on Feb. 19, 2014, the original article that came out in May 29, 2012, that was part of the Yellow regime’s vilification campaign to remove Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona, was republished.
Whether the offer was a purely business one or not, with no strings attached, it convinced Keng that he was being shaken down, that he was being asked to put up P100 million as an investor for the libelous article claiming he was a criminal to be taken down from the site.
That made Keng decide to pursue his libel case against Ressa for the article titled “CJ uses SUVs of controversial businessman,” even as his personal lawyer advised him not to do so, “as it is difficult to make an enemy out of media,” as the court decision put it.
Furthermore, according to the court records, Rappler’s editor-at-large Marites Vitug told Keng’s lawyer that a “clarificatory article” would be written by another reporter to present the businessman’s side. The reporter, Katerina Francisco, testified in court that she had submitted the article to her editors, but it wasn’t published.
The libelous piece claimed that Keng was a “murderer, a human trafficker and cigarette smuggler” in order to impugn the integrity of the late CJ Corona, who it claimed was close to the businessman. Keng was listed 23rd in one of Forbes’ annual listings of 40 richest Filipinos, even the article itself reported, and to this day has never been linked to any crime or criminal.
The Rappler stockholder, however, through a text message to this columnist replied: “I don’t recall inviting anyone to invest in Rappler, Keng especially.”
The stockholder admitted, however, that he met with Keng in 2014: “He visited me once, I believe in 2014, to buy our property in Leyte together with a broker. It was a short meeting but nothing was discussed about Rappler.”
Keng, the source close to him said: “What surprised Mr. Keng, is that the offer to buy the land was cursorily dismissed, even if he had asked for the meeting just to make an offer for the land. Instead, he was offered to invest P100 million in Rappler. Keng patiently explained though that he wasn’t interested in being a stockholder in a media company, since “sasakit lang ulo niya doon.”
Ressa has been lying to foreign media outlets and US media that “government lawyers pointed to a correction the site made to the article in 2014, amending the spelling of ‘evation’ to ‘evasion.’ This meant the article had been republished, they argued, opening it to prosecution under the new law.”
What a colossal liar Ressa is, an inventive one, though. In the first place, there were no government lawyers involved in the libel case against her and the supposed author, as it was a case filed by a private businessman. Secondly, the original article had been deleted, and no one — not even Rappler itself — can retrieve it to find out if indeed, there was such a typo error. I tried hard, but could not retrieve the original article in the renowned Web.archive.org, which after all is a limited service.
Thirdly, the private lawyers did not even point to a typographical error being the reason for the re-publication, but solely to the fact that the article was republished in 2014, and therefore falling within the effectivity of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which had provisions on libel committed not through print media but through the internet.
Other lawyers claim that the very fact that the libelous piece wasn’t taken down placed it within the ambit of the cybercrime law, even if it had not been republished. Indeed, in a shocking demonstration of impunity, Ressa hasn’t taken down the criminal article from the website to this day.
Ressa thinks we are as stupid as the gullible United S media she has fooled.
Why would Rappler correct that typographical error to republish the libelous article in February 2014, two years after it was first posted. Why did Rappler correct this particular article for typos, among the 7,000 articles written by its staff and posted in the website from May 29, 2012 to Feb. 19, 2014?
Almost all of these articles haven’t been republished, except for the article “In Numbers: The Philippines’ war on drugs” which has been republished 82 times, obviously to spite the Duterte administration, which has proven beyond any doubt that the piece’s claims of 27,000 killed in the anti-drug war is totally false, that the actual number is four times less, at 6,600.
It is therefore not unreasonable or unfair to conclude that it was republished in 2014 not just to spite the libeled businessman, but perhaps to tell him: “If you were a Rappler stockholder, you can demand that this article be taken down.”
What bolsters this interpretation is that by 2014, most of the original P200 million funding for Rappler by a property tycoon — who had met with Keng that year — had been running out, not just because of the high salary Ressa demanded and the costs of her frequent trips to the US. She had contracted very expensive technology and the services of US companies to artificially boost Rappler’s readership.
By 2014, the original investors had declined to put in more money for Rappler. Indeed, Ressa became desperate over Rappler’s finances that she sought in 2014 and got in 2015, a P100-million funding from US entities — in violation of the constitutional ban on any foreign money in media. The Securities and Exchange Commission ruled this as indeed violating the Constitution, and that therefore Rappler should be dissolved.
Worse, these American investors were the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been widely accused of being a channel for US Central Intelligence Agency propaganda and destabilization operations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere and an outfit with similar agenda, Omidyar Network, (See “ Rappler’s scheme was an attack on the Constitution and our nationhood”).
Rappler has appealed the case to the Court of Appeals, while Ressa has been telling the world it is one of the “thousand cuts” the Duterte administration has inflicted on her.
Trying to wriggle out of the violation, Ressa publicly claimed the foreign money was in the form of Philippine depositary receipts, a type of security that doesn’t transfer ownership of a share but only rights to its income. Some Bureau of Internal Revenue bureaucrat read her explanation, and asked her if Rappler paid for the capital gains tax involved in such a transaction. Rappler didn’t. She cries to foreign media: “Do I look like a stockbroker?”
And it gets hilarious. With the additional charge of tax evasion, she announced the foreign entities would just be giving out the money to Rappler’s officers as gifts to them. The officers have quietly declined, as it would require them to put up tens of thousands of pesos to pay the taxes required in such donations.
To be quite honest, I haven’t seen anything in my profession like Ressa, an American citizen who in order to save her skin from her disastrous mistakes in running a media organization claims to the world — and believed by a gullible Western media biased against Duterte — that she is a victim of press suppression by the Philippine government. Her claim to be a victim of press suppression will be exposed as one of international media’s biggest hoaxes.