Rappler editor Maria Ressa arrested in Manila over anti-dummy law


Maria Ressa goes with arresting Pasig police officers to post bail. Video: Rappler

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa was arrested in the Philippines over a charge of violating the anti-dummy law, reports the independent online news service.

Pasig police officers served the warrant of arrest the moment that Ressa arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 from a flight, reports Rappler’s Lian Buan.

Police officers took Ressa and her lawyer on board their police car, and international media freedom watchdogs, including the PMC’s Pacific Media Watch have condemned the arrest as another act of “judicial harassment” by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

Ressa told Rappler she would immediately post bail as she was being escorted to the police car.

The Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 265 issued on Thursday, March 28, the arrest warrant vs Ressa.

“To any officer of the law, you are hereby commanded to arrest the person Maria Angelita Ressa who is to be found at (address redacted) or elsewhere and who stand charged before me of the crime of violation of Section 2-A of Commonwealth Act No. 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law,” said Judge Acerey Pacheco in an arrest order issued on Thursday.

Ressa would have to pay bail worth P90,000 (US$1716) for the alleged Anti-Dummy Law offence, Rappler said.

‘Selective justice’
Media and various groups describe the string of cases and complaints against Maria Ressa and Rappler as “selective justice” at work

In Manila, Amnesty International Philippines called for “action” over the “trumped up charges”  after Maria Ressa’s arrest.

The human rights group said in an appeal that if people “think the trumped up charges against Maria Ressa is a form of harassment… Write to DOJ to express your concern”.

Ressa’s co-defendants in the charge, including Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria, and members of the company’s 2016 board, paid their bail worth the same amount on Wednesday even if there was no warrant yet.

Defendants can pay bail ahead of a warrant to avoid inconvenience. Ressa was abroad when charges were filed; she is out on a travel bond on her other charges before 3 different courts.

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