/ 18 January 2021

A YOUTH group condemned the filing of another cyber libel case against Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Resa and reporter Rambo Talabong, saying it is yet another attempt to silence the press.

The complaint was filed by a professor of the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde over a report alleging that he allows students to pass their thesis subject in exchange for money.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines said that silencing the press and critical voices of dissent is “an attack on democracy itself.”

“The 10th arrest warrant filed against Ressa proves how the Duterte administration and his cohorts are busy fabricating lies that distort truth from falsehood; thus, jeopardizing the very existence of a democratic sphere,” CEGP said in a statement.

Professor Ariel Pineda filed cyber libel charges against Resa and Talabong in connection with the report that he allowed students to pass their thesis program in exchange for cash.

The state prosecutor said that Resa and Talabong conspired to publish on January 23, 2020 an article titled “Thesis for sale: Benilde students say they paid P20,000 to pass,” with the “malicious intent” to damage the reputation of Pineda.

The CEGP said critical journalism “is not something to be criminalized but a necessity that needs to be amplified.”

“Through these repressive state structures that sought to weaponize the law against journalists —the Filipino people are not only being blinded from the truth but are being played upon by the government,” the group said.

“Hence, CEGP voices out their calls of solidarity to Maria Ressa and Rambo Talabong. The Guild holds firm in their conviction that to express the truth through ink and pen is not to be responded to by an arrest warrant,” it added.

The group reiterated its call to defend press freedom.