Manila, Philippines – As a Manila Regional Trial Court rendered a guilty verdict on the cyber-libel charges against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and writer Reynaldo Santos, Jr., the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Rural Women Advocates expressed its support to the media community and urged the people to support the battlecries “Hold The Line,” and “Defend Press Freedom!” against the open violation of the Duterte regime to the right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.  This would be an added legal ammunition, on top of the “terror bill” against legal and democratic organizations who are critical of government’s anti-people policies and programs.

“We join the campaign for defending press freedom in our country. We stand with Maria Ressa, Reynaldo Santos Jr., and the media community that have been constant targets of the Duterte regime for speaking for the truth,” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, Amihan national Chairperson. 

The group also slammed the latest statement of Malacanang denying involvement with the case.

“Duterte’s hostility against Rappler has been clear as the blue sky, slamming them, coinciding pile of charges against them and its officials.  It is known nationwide and even in the international community, thus, Maria Ressa, being represented by Atty. Amal Clooney on international laws,” Soriano said.

Aside from the cyber-libel case, Rappler is facing foreign ownership issue charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and five counts of tax laws violations against Ressa and Rappler Holdings Corp.. 

“We should not bow down with Duterte’s act of terror against democratic rights. We have shown our unity against the ABS-CBN shutdown, as well as persecution against campus journalism.  Moreover, we are gaining ground against the terror bill which is a bigger threat to our right to freedom of expression, assocation and peaceful assembly.  Let us hold the Duterte regime accountable for undermining the very democratic pillars of society,” Soriano ended. ###

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