Anyare Te? Roque blames Ressa’s lawyer for legal debacle: Never akong natalo sa libel, alam ko ‘yan!

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque is blaming abogado Ted Te of the Free Legal Assistance Group for the guilty verdict on Rappler executive editor Maria Angelita Ressa and former writer Rey Santos.

Roque questioned why Te did not present any evidence to refute cyber libel charges filed by businessman Willy Keng who was accused of being a human trafficker, drug smuggler and murderer in the controversial 2012 article.

Related story: Wrong move? Judge Montesa surprised why Ressa, co-accused didn’t take the stand

The human rights abogado explained that since the complainant, Keng, was a private individual, “there is presumption that the malicious imputation is, in fact, malicious and has to be overcome by Ted Te.”

“Paano naman hindi mako-convict si Maria Ressa, hindi naman siya nag-introduce ng evidence na walang malice? Ni hindi nag-introduce ng evidence na vinerify nila yung kanilang nirereport na kriminal ang isang pribadong indibidwal bago nila ito ipinublish. Walang ganung ebidensyang ipineresenta. Eh paano siya maabsuwelto? ” said Roque in a briefing.

Roque boasted he has authority to speak on what makes a successful defense in libel cases.

Related story: Duwag na, nanlaglag pa! Judge Montesa shatters Ressa’s ‘clever scheme’ not to take responsibility for libelous Rappler story

“Ako naman po ay bihasang libel defense lawyer ‘no, ni isang kaso wala pa akong natalo. Noong nabubuhay po si Niñez Cacho-Olivares (former Daily Tribune publisher), talagang—minsan siyang na-convict, hindi ako naghawa —pero I have absolved her in no less than 14 cases,” said Roque.

In her ruling handed down on June 15, Judge Rainelda Estacio- Montesa found both Ressa and Santos guilty of cyber libel and sentenced them to six months and one day to up to six years in jail. Ressa and Santos, who will remain free on bail pending their appeal, has also been ordered to pay Keng P200,000 in moral damages and P200,000 in exemplary damages. Montesa found no liability against Rappler.

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