Malacañang to Ressa: Just focus on your defense

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MANILA — Malacañang on Wednesday urged Rappler chief executive officer (CEO) Maria Ressa to just focus on her defense after the Manila Regional Trial Court branch 46 ordered her arrest over a cyberlibel case.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has given Ressa all the opportunity to defend herself.

“The charge is facts-based and the DOJ prosecutors gave her all the opportunity to defend herself and it found out there is probable cause and even the court agrees with it,” Panelo said in an interview over ANC.

Panelo also denied that arresting Ressa is an attack on press freedom.

“I think I’d rather advise Maria Ressa just focus on her defense. Freedom of expression has nothing to do with it,” Panelo said.

“Simply, she committed a crime and the court finds probable cause that’s why she is now being charged,” he added.

Panelo also criticized Ressa’s legal counsel for questioning why the arrest warrant was issued after office hours noting that it should only be an issue if was issued during the weekend.

“They are making a fuss about anything they perceive to be wrong. You know warrant of arrest can be issued on a weekday. It was issued on a weekday so what’s the complaint?,” Panelo said.

“The only prohibition is you issue it on a weekend and that will not give the respondent the opportunity to file a motion for or to file bail,” he added.

ALSO READ: (nbi-arrests-rapplers-maria-ressa-for-cyber-libel)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier approved the filing of a cyber libel case against her for violating Section 4 (c)(4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175).-PNA

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