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Spox Harry Roque, rumesbak sa mga pasaring sa kanya tungkol sa naging verdict kay Maria Ressa

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has finally broke his silence about the issues being hurled at him regarding the conviction of the criminal Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and one of her associates.
Here's the full statement of Spox Harry Roque:

I have been repeatedly asked for statements regarding press freedom in our country following the convictions of Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos, Jr. on Monday. I am posting this statement on my personal account, because much ado is being made about my past views, expressed in my capacity as an advocate of freedom of expression. Articles I have written in the past are being re-circulated and my record as a lawyer for journalists is being used to paint a picture of me as someone who has turned his back on his beliefs. To those busy painting this picture, you can relax: I am not about to file libel charges. Filing libel charges is simply not something I believe in doing, as I have repeatedly stated and herein reaffirm. I am writing this to address the alleged inconsistency between my decades-long advocacy and my present views. Short version: there is no inconsistency, because my views are the same.

For the record, I have long believed that libel should be decriminalized and I have worked towards that goal for many years. You can see that in the cases I argued for clients before domestic courts and international bodies. You can read the articles I have written, the positions I have submitted to legislative bodies deliberating on bills to decriminalize libel, and the interviews I have given. As my critics like to point out, I even filed a petition challenging the unconstitutional provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and again raised the question of decriminalizing libel on the grounds of free speech in that case. Unfortunately, despite my efforts (and the efforts of many others), libel remains to be a crime in this country, and cyberlibel is still considered to be a more egregious variation of that offense. Until that law is changed, then it must be applied.

The decision that was handed down on Monday was in a case instituted by a private individual who claimed that Maria Ressa and her co-accused committed a crime and violated his rights. A court applied the law and found that there was an offense based on the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. The fact that Ressa and Santos were convicted does not mean that the government is cracking down on press freedom, or that I endorse jailing journalists. Would I personally have filed a case like that? No, but that does not mean that Mr. Wilfredo Keng should not have done so. He—and all of us—are entitled to seek remedies under the law when we believe our rights are violated. Because the law has not changed, the remedy of a cyberlibel charge remains available. Because the law has not changed, the state has a duty to prosecute the offense of cyberlibel when it finds probable cause that it has been committed.

If you believe in press freedom, as I do, apply your energies to changing the remedies available under the law. I agree that journalists should be held accountable when they do a bad job and harm people, but I don’t believe that means locking them up. Until the law changes, however, that remains an option.

Spox Harry Roque, rumesbak sa mga pasaring sa kanya tungkol sa naging verdict kay Maria Ressa Spox Harry Roque, rumesbak sa mga pasaring sa kanya tungkol sa naging verdict kay Maria Ressa Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 6:12:00 AM Rating: 5

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