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Maria Ressa pretends to champion free speech, but moves to shut down social media influencers critical of her

Blogger cries foul over FB suspension
MANILA -- A blogger allegedly suspended on social networking site Facebook cried foul and pointed to Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa as the one behind his suspension.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Saturday, blogger Mark Lopez accused Ressa of getting back at him after he and another blogger picketed outside the Rappler office to air their sentiments.

"She (Ressa) was the one responsible for the suspension of my account. Because in an interview with the New York Times, Maria Ressa said nireport niya yung (she reported the) live video, nireport niya yung account ko (she reported my account) and she talked to Facebook executives and that's why my Facebook account got suspended, because of what she said and they believed her that I was inciting to violence," Lopez said.

Lopez was referring to a protest he made, along with another blogger, in front of the Rappler office to air his opinion on Ressa's current debacles.

"Hindi kami nag-trespass (We did not trespass). She was saying that we were inciting to violence. So many people have seen the video, even the ones who are politically-neutral and said there was never an instance that we were inciting to violence, that we were violent. We were very peaceful, we were very respectful of the authorities. We were just asserting our constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble and to express ourselves," he said.

Rappler's office is located inside a mall, Lopez added.

Lopez said the comments section of the video of the protest posted live on Facebook was the one used by Ressa as basis to request his FB account suspension.

"It happens in all politically-charged posts. But that doesn't mean na responsibility nung nagpost yun dahil (it's the responsibility of the one who posted it because) that is beyond my control and that is something that I cannot really hold back. That would really be suppression pag pinigilan mo naman ang tao (if you prevent people from posting their comments) to express themselves," he said, noting that even posts from Rappler have inciteful comments from other FB users.

Lopez said he finds it "ironic" that Ressa, who cries foul over suppression of press freedom, was the one who asked for his FB account's suspension.

"It's not only me na pwedeng gawan ng ganito (who can experience this). Anybody can be a target of Maria Ressa's wrath. They're the ones saying that we have to defend democracy, saying we have to fight the suppression of press freedom, and yet they're ones now who are engaging in suppression," he said.

Lopez said his backup account was disabled by Facebook "at least five times in three days". He said he tried creating another backup account which was also suspended.

"Ganun katindi si Maria Ressa (That's how powerful Maria Ressa is). Right now, I don't have a voice in social media because even my Twitter account was suspended, I know it is also courtesy of the opposition. Parang naka-red flag na ako sa (It seems like I was already red-flagged on) Facebook because Maria Ressa is known to be close to Facebook executives," he said, citing that Rappler is one of Facebook's "fact-checkers" in the country.

Lopez denied opposition critics' accusations of him being in the payroll of the government and said he is a trader and a retired marketing executive.

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Feb. 13 issued a warrant of arrest against Ressa and Rappler writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. after being charged under the provision on content-related offenses, which include libel committed through a computer system or similar means.

This stemmed from a cyber libel complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng in October 2017, who was named by Santos in the article titled, "CJ using SUVs of 'controversial' businessmen", as the owner of a sports utility vehicle used by the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Keng was being linked to drugs and human trafficking in the said article.

The article was published in 2012 and updated in 2014.

Ressa posted a PHP100,000 bail not long after she publicly denounced the Philippine justice system for allegedly persecuting her.

Lopez said Ressa "made a drama out of her supposed arrest." (PNA)

Maria Ressa pretends to champion free speech, but moves to shut down social media influencers critical of her Maria Ressa pretends to champion free speech, but moves to shut down social media influencers critical of her Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 7:43:00 PM Rating: 5

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