MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday denied criticisms that his administration is curtailing press freedom in the country after the arrest of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa for cyber libel charges.
In an interview with reporters after the proclamation and kick-off rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Duterte said he is used to criticisms while he served as Davao City mayor for many years.
"Susmaryosep. Far from it actually. I’ve been mayor for so many years. I have been the subject of all kinds of attack, personal and whatever --- silly and everything," the President said reacting to accusations of his administration's involvement in Ressa's case.
Duterte said he does not know businessman Wilfredo Keng, the complainant in Ressa's case.
"I do not know him and what prompted him to file a case," he said.
Duterte, a lawyer, said it is normal for courts to issue a warrant of arrest once a case is filed.
The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 on Wednesday issued a warrant of arrest against Ressa and Rappler writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. after being charged under the provision on content-related offenses, which include libel committed through a computer system or similar means.
This stemmed from a cyber libel complaint filed by Keng in October 2017, who was named by Santos in the article titled, "CJ using SUVs of 'controversial' businessmen', as the owner of a sports utility vehicle used by the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The article was published in 2012 and updated in 2014.
Ressa posted a bail of PHP100,000 on Thursday for her temporary liberty, not long after she publicly denounced the Philippine justice system for allegedly persecuting her. (PNA)
Photo from Philstar