The Regional Trial Court Branch 46 in Manila has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos, Jr. in the cyber libel case they were convicted of.
In a 13-page decision, Presiding Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa denied their motion for partial consideration “for lack of merit.”
Ressa and Santos were sentenced to up to six years jail in June over what the court considered a “republication” of an article that was originally published before the anti-cybercrime law was enacted.
The two remain free after being granted post-conviction bail.
Businessman Wilfredo Keng filed the cyber libel complaint before the Department of Justice over a 2012 Rappler article written by Santos linking him to human trafficking and drug smuggling.
Meanwhile, more lawmakers have joined the clamor to allow a thorough debate on and discussion of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal in a plenary session at the House of Representatives.
Reps. Lawrence Fortun of Agusan del Norte, Lito Atienza of Buhay and Joy Tambunting of
Parañaque City, in an online forum Saturday, echoed the appeal of the Makabayan Bloc to have the resolution and report of the legislative franchises committee rejecting the ABS-CBN franchise renewal bills reviewed by and deliberated on by the 301-member of the chamber.
The three lawmakers also welcomed the pronouncement of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that the franchise issue would be brought from the House legislative franchises committee to the plenary for deliberations.
Cayetano himself said the plenary discussion on the franchise was “possible” since the plenary had the power to review resolutions of committees under the 1987 Constitution.
Fortun, Atienza and Tambunting appealed to Cayetano to allow the plenary debate and voting and heed the will of majority of the people supporting the network’s franchise renewal, citing a Social Weather Station showing that three of four or 75 percent of Filipinos favor the grant of the franchise application.
“The term ‘laid on the table’ means the committee will no longer act on it. But it doesn’t prevent the plenary to review the resolution. It can still be acted upon by the plenary,” Fortun said.
Fortun viewed the findings of the committee as “whimsical and capricious,” adding the “entire House should look at the findings.”
Atienza shared Fortun’s view, saying the plenary had the power to “correct the mistrial committed by the committee.”
“The plenary is the voice of the people... If members vote according to their conscience, and if the Speaker does not twist arms, the majority of House members will support the plenary review of the committee findings,” he said.
Tambunting, for her part, reiterated their appeal for renewal of the franchise “for the sake of 11,000 workers of the network who stand to lose their jobs at a time of pandemic and economic recession.”
“I hope the trust and confidence of the business sector to the government returns. I hope the workers of ABS-CBN get their jobs back...” she said.
In the same forum, members of the Makabayan bloc again pushed for the plenary debate on the matter.
Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna urged the House leadership to heed the “voice of the people” that he said clearly supports the franchise renewal of the network.
“Majority of our people want ABS-CBN to return on air. (The SWS survey) is a message to our colleagues in Congress that we need to reflect on this matter in the plenary,” he said.
Zarate was joined by fellow Bayan Muna Reps. Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat; ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro; Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas; and Kabataan Rep Sarah Elago in calling for a plenary debate on the issue.