The fight between businessman Wilfredo Keng and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa has reached its conclusion after the Manila Regional Trial Court announced their verdict with Ressa guilty of the cyber libel charges on Monday, June 15.
“Today, with the judgment of conviction against Ressa and Santos promulgated by the Hon. Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa, I have been vindicated, at least, to the extent possible considering that the damage had already been done. Even today, when the truth should have set me free, Rappler’s lies still resound after the bang of the gavel has faded away,” Keng said in his press statement released on the same day.
From the start, Keng knew that going against a renowned journalist was going to be a long and painful process in his life. However, he still vowed to see the end of the case until the end for the sake of his family.
“Motivated by the sheer conviction that I have done nothing to deserve the false accusations against me, I decided to go on my quest for justice even if it meant going up against Rappler, a powerful and well-funded media entity with a global reach, headed by one of Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential Women in the World” – Maria Ressa herself,” he shared.
The businessman also disclosed that he tried to discuss the issue with Rappler, pleading and begging them several times to correct their story or to write his side of the story. The news entity, on the other hand, declined his request and denied him of his right to clear his name.
“It is of public record: My counsel had pleaded and begged with Rappler to correct their false public accusations that I am a criminal, or at the very least, to publish my side. They refused. They have denied me my right to clear my name. Where else can I go to seek justice and protection but our courts? And so I did,” Keng said.
The article in question was published by Rappler in 2012 in which it mentioned Keng allegedly has involvement with former chief justice Renato Corona’s issue and various illegal activities like drugs, human trafficking, tax evasion, etc.
He also stated in his press statement that he diligently underwent all legal processes with no shortcuts or exemptions and testified in open court, while Ressa refused to take the witness stand despite attending the court hearings.
Keng also noted that this case is not a fight against press freedom. He said it is for Rappler’s false accusations against him, which he thought have no place in a responsible and free press.
“Indeed, it is an accepted legal principle that libel is not protected speech. My filing and winning this case assures Filipinos that published falsehoods will not remain unchallenged and unchecked in this jurisdiction but will instead be dealt with by law, strengthening the people’s respect for the Philippine Media in the years to come,” he emphasized.