Maria Ressa, chief of Philippine news site Rappler, was released on bail after being arrested at an airport in Manila, her second arrest in a month. (Reuters)
By Regine CabatoMarch 29 at 4:40 AM
MANILA — A Philippine journalist critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration was arrested for a second time in little over a month on Friday morning, the latest in a string of charges widely perceived as attempts to stifle the press.
By the end of the day, Maria Ressa will have paid over $1,700 in bail to guarantee her freedom in the face of charges against her and her news organization. It is the seventh time she has posted bail.
By comparison, the family of dictator and former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, notorious for corruption and human rights violations, never paid that much in bail while fighting the many charges against them.
Ressa, chief executive of the news site Rappler, shared Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year award with several other journalists, including slain Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
She was arrested at the Manila airport on her way home from a trip abroad with police waiting for her at the baggage claim. She was escorted her to police headquarters and then to a regional trial court. Ressa posted a photo on Twitter of her view from inside the van, showing a police officer in a bulletproof vest.
“The fact that the government continues to try to label us as criminals is itself criminal,” Ressa told reporters after her release around noon. “Every action takes us further on a descent to tyranny. This is the weaponization of the law.”
“This latest episode is not surprising and we prepared ourselves for it,” said Francis Lim, Ressa’s legal counsel. “But let it be crystal clear that these acts of harassment will not deter our clients from doing their duty as journalists.”
This time, the charges are for the alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. Rappler is accused of breaking laws that restrict foreign ownership of businesses. The government argues that a 2015 investment from the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm owned by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, qualifies as foreign control. Ressa has maintained that the company is still owned and run by Filipinos.
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