Be woman enough! Panelo tells Maria Ressa: Face charges instead of using free speech to malign Duterte

Be woman enough! Panelo tells Maria Ressa: Face charges instead of using free speech to malign Duterte

Malacañang has advised Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa to be “woman enough” to face the cyber libel case filed against her amid her quest to make it a press freedom issue.

In a press briefing last week, Chief Presidential Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Ressa to stop “weaponizing” free speech against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“You have to be woman enough to face the complaint against you. Stop blaming the government, in the same way that the case filed against you relative to tax evasion – that has nothing to do with your work as a journalist,” he said.

Panelo said following Ressa’s logic, members of the media can no longer be sued because there will always be the perception that the government is behind it as a way of stifling press freedom

“[T]hat cannot be done,” he said.

Ressa was arrested last week at Rappler’s office in Pasig over a cyber libel case filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng. She was released after posting a P100,000 bail.

Panelo was not amused by Ressa’s efforts to style herself as a savior of press freedom by using her influence to get the support of local and international journalists.

“Now you say ‘there is an abuse of power.’ Excuse me Maria, abuse of power? You are the one abusing your power as a journalist. You’re marshaling your colleagues to support you on the basis of a misplaced and baseless cause,” he said.

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