Jan 21, 2021 @ 19:34

Keng’s second cyberlibel case versus Ressa gets new Makati judge

The second cyberlibel case initiated by businessman Wilfredo Keng against Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa has been raffled off to Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 148 Judge Andres Soriano.

Soriano would take over the case following the inhibition of Branch 147 Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes on January 5, after her court received a threatening email from a certain Gabriel Alejandro.

Keng is the father of Patricia King, whom President Rodrigo Duterte gave a seat at Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

He filed the complaint in connection with Ressa’s February 19, 2019 tweet that contained screenshots of The Philippine Star’s now-deleted August 12, 2002 report titled “Influential businessman eyed in ex-councilor’s slay.”

The news report had been cited in Rappler’s May 28, 2012 article that brought up Keng’s alleged “shady past.” The said article led to the first conviction of Ressa and writer Reynaldo Santos, Jr., in a June 15, 2020 decision by Manila RTC Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa.

The novelty of the legal questions surrounding the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 has drawn attention to the case of Ressa, who has portrayed her prosecution as part of Duterte’s crackdown on press freedom and dissent.

Soriano is well known as the judge who denied the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “very urgent” motion for a hold departure order and a warrant of arrest against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

He is handling the coup d’etat case against Trillanes in connection with the July 27, 2003 Oakwood mutiny, which the government revived after Duterte issued Proclamation Number 572 that revoked his critic’s amnesty for alleged noncompliance with the requirements.

Apart from these two cases initiated by Keng, Ressa also faces a third cyberlibel case before the sala of Manila RTC Branch 24 Judge Maria Victoria Soriano-Villadolid.

The case was initiated by De La Salle University College of Saint Benilde (DLSU-CSB) professor Ariel Pineda in connection with the January 23, 2020 expose of reporter Rambo Talabong titled “Thesis for sale: Benilde students say they paid P20,000 to pass.”

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