CA discredits bleeding hearts

It is a lesson, the gist of which is to leave the courtroom to the judges, and the nunnery to the nuns.

September 4, 2022

Back in 2020, the Regional Trial Court of Manila convicted Maria Ressa, the chieftain of online news outlet Rappler, for the crime of cyber libel. Ressa was convicted with Rappler’s former writer and researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr.

The case arose from a defamatory article against businessman Wilfredo Keng published and republished in Rappler. The article portrayed Keng as a shady personality with ties to several illegal activities including murder, human trafficking, and the smuggling of narcotics and ersatz cigarettes.

In the decision signed by Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa, Ressa and Santos were meted out separate prison sentences from a minimum of six months and one day to a maximum of six years.

Ressa and her minions quickly branded the judge’s decision an affront to press freedom.

The quintessential political opportunist Leni Robredo, who was still the vice president, also denounced the court ruling in her vain hope of getting noticed and jump-starting her unofficial campaign to win in the 2022 presidential elections.

Likewise, the opinionated Sister Mary John Mananzan of Saint Scholastica’s College, who has no adequate understanding of the Constitution and the law on cyber libel, went on an online rampage against Judge Estacio-Montesa, to the point of branding the judge, an alumna of Saint Scholastica’s College, an embarrassment to the school.

Many people found Mananzan’s behavior unbecoming of a nun, because nuns are not supposed to engage in vile name-calling. They found it detestable for Mananzan to crucify the judge in social media without even bothering to understand the legal basis for the ruling of the trial court.

Hopefully, not all nuns in the Philippines think and behave like Mananzan. If they did, this country will retrograde to the dark times of Padre Damaso and Madre Damasa, when innocent Filipinos were thrown in prison without the benefit of a fair, thorough and impartial investigation.

University of the Philippines journalism teacher Danilo Arao tagged the trial court’s ruling a threat to press freedom. This non-lawyer, who loves to be interviewed on ABS-CBN television regarding constitutional issues, badly needs to read up on the Constitution, the laws, and jurisprudence. Unsuspecting and gullible television audiences need to be guided against Arao’s misleading public statements.

Ressa and her pinklawan stooges were conveniently silent about the legal doctrine upheld by the Supreme Court that libel laws are valid limitations on the freedom of speech and of the press. The gang obviously wanted to make the court ruling a political weapon against the administration of then president Rodrigo Duterte. They failed, as seen in the continuing high public approval ratings Duterte enjoyed until the end of his term.

Inevitably, Ressa and Santos appealed their case to the Court of Appeals.

Last July, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision affirming the conviction of Ressa and Santos. The appellate court even increased their sentence to a maximum of six years, eight months and 20 days imprisonment.

The decision of the Court of Appeals was penned by Justice Roberto Quiroz, with Justices Ramon Bato and Germano Legaspi concurring.

That fact notwithstanding, Ressa and her gang insist that their self-serving protestations should prevail over the sound judgment of the judge and the appellate court justices. Goodness gracious!

What ought to be interesting to the general public is the suspicious silence of Sister Mananzan on this recent ruling of the Court of Appeals which, symbolically speaking, is a slap on her face, and a repudiation of all the nasty things she said about Judge Estacio-Montesa.

It is a lesson, the gist of which is to leave the courtroom to the judges, and the nunnery to the nuns.

Ressa and company are expected to eventually take up their case to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the decision of the Court of Appeals must be respected, and Ressa and her gang should focus their arguments before the High Tribunal, and not through their confederates whose understanding of the law is woefully inadequate.

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