Malacañang on Saturday criticized Rappler chief Maria Ressa for hiding behind the issue of press freedom and using it attack the Duterte administration.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Ressa cannot forever hide behind the freedom of the press “every time she commits what probably is a transgression of law as determined by the investigating prosecutor and the judge handling her case.”
“She cannot be using her arrest as a violation of the freedom of the press and make it as an excuse to attack the government. She wants a special treatment owing to her being a journalist,” Panelo said.
“She wants her profession to shield her from accountability of a wrongdoing that she could be guilty of,” he added.
Ressa was arrested upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday but was released after posting P90,000 bail at the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.
Ressa, executive director of Rappler, described the arrest as “harassment” and “travesty of justice.”
“The executive department respects the independence of the judiciary, including how it handles cases pending before its courts,” Panelo said.
The arrest warrant was issued against Ressa in connection with the Philippine Depository Receipts Rappler issued to Omidyar Network Fund, LLC in 2015, a year before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, Panelo said.
“Once again Ressa is peddling her repudiated accusation that the administration is behind her criminal prosecution and arrest,” he said.
“The fact alone that after she was criminally charged, a preliminary investigation was conducted, and after a finding of probable cause an information was filed in court, shows she was accorded her statutory right. The circumstance that a warrant of arrest was issued against her after the presiding judge determined the existence of a probable cause following the process outlined by the Constitution shows that the rule of law was followed,” he added.