Gov't: Rule of law observed in Rappler CEO's arrest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) — Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo insisted that the arrest of journalist and news website site Rappler CEO Maria Ressa followed the right judicial processes.

"The rule of law has been observed in this particular case. She was given the opportunity to present evidence and rebut the charges against her," he told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.

Ressa was forced to spend the night in detention after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents arrived at the Rappler's office in Pasig City at around 5:30 p.m. She arrived at the NBI Cybercrime Division office in Pasay City past 7 p.m., but the Pasay City court did not allow her to post bail. She remained in custody of the NBI through the night.

Panelo said there is nothing irregular in the serving of the arrest warrant, despite the fact that the Manila Trial Court Branch 46 issued the order on Tuesday, but opted to have the NBI serve it on Wednesday.

"I understand this was issued yesterday afternoon... A warrant of arrest issued by a court is only frowned upon when it is issued on a weekend or at the end of Friday, so you will have no more time to file a bail, you have to sleep in jail. I think she's just making something out of nothing," he said.

The presidential spokesperson denied the allegation of Ressa that the government is resorting to "black propaganda" to silence journalists in the country.

"This has no connection whatsoever with the exercise of press freedom... Ang batas hindi namimili ng oras. We cannot be using our influence or stature as a journalist para magreklamo tayo na inaapi tayo. Kailangan pantay-pantay ang tingin ng batas sa lahat ng tao," he said.

Cyber libel charges were filed against Rappler over a story published in 2012. It stemmed from a complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng in October 2017 over an allegedly libelous Rappler article about him saying that he had loaned a vehicle to then Chief Justice Renato Corona.