IT was Rappler CEO Maria Ressa who fed patent lies to European Parliament member Hannah Neumann and fooled her into getting the body to issue the September EP resolution asking the Philippine government to withdraw all the charges against her or else it would impose trade sanctions against the country.
I haven’t seen such grotesque selfishness as that of Ressa’s: she is willing to have Filipinos — 200,000 workers by one labor federation’s estimate — suffer if trade sanctions are imposed, just to escape her conviction for libel by a Philippine court of law, presided over by a judge of the highest integrity and competence.
Ressa sought out the EP member Neumann right after the Manila Regional Trial Court found her guilty of cyberlibel last June 15, one of her desperate attempts to campaign for international pressure to drop the charges against her — rather than convincing the court to find her innocent.
Ressa’s Yellow network told her that Neumann would be easily won to her cause, especially as the parliamentarian had been exposed to the Yellow kind of thinking when she was on a research fellowship at the Ateneo for a year. On July 1, Neuman interviewed Ressa in a public “Instalive” video streaming.
The 36-year old Neuman, just on her second year as EP of the German Alliance 90 group, was obviously so smitten with the 56-year-old Ressa’s use of such melodramatic epigrams as “Embrace your fear,” “democracy dies in darkness” and “speak truth to power.”
Neumann herself in her sponsorship speech said she was prodded to file the resolution with “urgency” by Ressa.
The Rappler CEO a few days after the resolution was passed tweeted: “Thank you@HNeumannMEP, for turning words into action.” She was referring to Neumann’s promise in their Instalive conversation that she would “bring” her case to the European Union. The title of the resolution itself referred to the convicted Rappler CEO: “European Parliament resolution on the situation in the Philippines, including the case of Maria Ressa.” The closure of ABS-CBN Corp. and the lies in the 2018 resolution engineered by the Communist Party were merely added to Neumann’s for-Ressa resolution.
Ressa’s fed Neuman with such colossal lies that in her sponsorship speech, the latter claimed that President Duterte is “encouraging his armed services to kill thousands of people” and that the “human rights situation in the Philippines is getting worse by the second.”
What stupendous lies. Even the opposition leader Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, the forever-Yellow Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Commission on Human Rights head Chito Gascon, or even the Communist Party have long stopped making those unsubstantiated claims. Long vanished from newspaper pages are the dramatic photos of those killed in the war against drugs, and reportage of these are now relegated to the inside pages.
The truth — that those killed in the anti-drug war since 2016 total 5,660, an understandable casualty rate given the strength and ferocity of the drug-dealing network here — has finally overtaken these Yellows’ lies two years ago that there were “tens of thousands of innocent victims killed.”
Ressa in her talk with Neuman claimed that 27,000 Filipinos have been killed in Duterte’s anti-drug war. I had debunked that claim two years ago as a piece of fake news concocted by Rappler and widely disseminated by Western media.
Ressa even claimed that she has to wear body armor and hire bodyguards because of threats from Duterte and his supporters, that the security in Rappler’s offices had to be “increased by six times,” and that she gets death and rape threats “90 times” a day. Neumann and Ressa didn’t even discuss the details of the libel case she was convicted for, with the latter implying it was filed by the government.
The truth of course is that it was filed by a legitimate businessman whom Ressa and Rappler claimed in 2012 was a smuggler and a murderer who supported the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. Rappler and Ressa’s aim was to paint Corona as corrupt so as to prod the Senate into removing him as chief justice in an impeachment ordered by President Aquino 3rd in 2012.
Ressa portrayed the libel case as a patently made-up one since, she claimed, the prescription period for libel had ended. This of course is a lie. Hardly a Duterte supporter, former Supreme Court chief justice Artemio Panganiban wrote in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column (and so did the judge that convicted Ressa) that in a totally different case the high court already ruled that cyberlibel “prescribes in 15 years,” putting the case against her well within the prescription period.
Worse, Ressa told Neumann that the alleged libelous article was published before the passing of the Anti-Cybercrime Law in 2012, prompting the parliamentarian to say that it was “Kafka-esque,” a reference to the absurd situations in the novels of the Czech writer Franz Kafka.
The truth is that the offending article was not only republished in Rappler’s website after that law was passed. Ressa is so unrepentant or defiant that Rappler hasn’t taken down to this day the libelous article, which the court had ruled had criminally and unjustifiably defamed an innocent businessman William Keng.
I don’t know why the Manila Regional Trial Court hasn’t cited Ressa in contempt, and thrown her in jail immediately. By maintaining the libelous article in Rappler’s website, Ressa is not only defaming a businessman every single day since it was published in 2012, she is declaring to the world that she is above Philippine laws, that she does not recognize the decision of any court in this land.
Ressa is worse than Jose Ma. Sison and the Communist Party that pushed for the first roughly similar resolution of the EP in July 2018. At least they justify their move as the propaganda aspect of a revolutionary war they are waging to liberate Filipinos from oppression.
In Ressa’s case, it’s not for some noble cause as “saving democracy” as she claims but entirely to save her skin from the colossal errors she made as a CEO (by taking in foreign money in a media firm which is banned by the Constitution), and as an editor by publishing such a clearly libelous article that even a mediocre editor would have spotted.
Ressa will go down in history not only as the world’s biggest media fraud, but one who even defamed her country — even if he is a dual citizen — and was willing to have 200,000 Filipino workers suffer in order to evade a prison sentence.