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Cut the dramatics, Maria

Ninez Cacho-Olivares



Opposition forces, along with journalist Maria Ressa, are hard at work in making sure her arrest — which certainly could have been avoided easily by Ressa if she wasn’t into making herself look like a politically persecuted journalist — a dramatic newsworthy event.

Ressa, the Rappler’s chief executive officer, was arrested inside her news agency’s headquarters in Pasig City on Wednesday over a cyberlibel case.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents conducted the arrest at around 5 p.m., even as the arrest warrant was already issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 a day before, on Tuesday, 12 February.

It is clear, however, that Ressa and her staff wanted to make her arrest look like she is again being politically persecuted — and for the bailable crime of libel which journalists know is part of the territory.

With the NBI agents ushering her out of her office, Ressa claimed she was shocked by her sudden arrest.

“It’s a shock, but we are going,” she told reporters.

Ressa, of course, cries political persecution and makes it out as yet another try from President Duterte to silence her.

“We are not intimidated. No amount of legal cases, black propaganda and lies can silence Filipino journalists who continue to hold the line,” she said.

“These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail,” she added.

Oh, c’mon Maria. Cut the dramatics, please. You are a better journalist to resort to such fake drama, especially as you certainly know you could not have been shocked at all, considering the fact that the warrant of arrest for you was already issued a day before the agents came to arrest you. In fact, I would wager that even before the warrant was issued, you would have already been tipped off by other journalists and even court sources of an arrest warrant against you having been signed by the judge.

Another Palace move to silence you, Maria? Oh, puhleez. Spare us the false indignation!
Stop saying the government resorted to legal acrobatics, as well as the “pettiness of forcing” you to spend the night in jail.

That is really going too far, as being a journalist, you are not sticking to facts just to make it look as if you were truly being persecuted when you are not.

It was your decision not to voluntarily surrender and pay bail a day before the arrest. You waited for the law enforcers to come and arrest you and it was your decision to spend the night at the NBI headquarters which you call jail.

Government’s way to silence Ressa? What amateurish drama Maria makes. How can this be taken as a move to silence her when Rappler is still functioning and she can write as freely as she wants and she is not being censored?

It was evident that Maria Ressa wanted full media play and make herself look like a politically persecuted journalist for attacking President Duterte.

So, why should her arrest on the charge of libel be treated by opposition forces and some media outfits as a special case, when other journalists who are charged with multiple counts of libel are hardly even given any media treatment, mainly because libel is not a novel case filed against journalists, especially from politicians with onion skins.

Ressa knew of the arrest warrant on 12 February, and she certainly didn’t have to wait for the next day for the arresting team to take her. But she waited until the NBI came, because she wanted full publicity over her libel case and her arrest, even making it appear that there was no bail so much so that she had to spend the night at the NBI headquarters.

It is fact that she had all the time in the world to go to the court, voluntarily surrender and post bail which always accompanies a libel case.

But Ressa or her staff claimed the Rappler CEO was never given the chance to come up with a motion for reconsideration, since the Department of Justice (DoJ) never sent her the prosecution’s indictment on her libel case.

That can be checked out, but the DoJ would be pretty stupid to do that, especially as prosecutors usually give the indicted two separate days for the individual to present her side. This can be questioned by Ressa’s lawyers to get her off the hook.

The best that Maria can do is to get her lawyer to slug it out with the prosecutor in court. She won’t even get jail time, so dramatics are useless.

Ressa, who has five cases of tax evasion before the Court of Tax Appeals and the Pasig City RTC, said she will not be silenced by any amount of criminal charges.

But nobody is trying to silence her. She is free to attack Duterte and whoever she wants to attack in her reports. But she should stick to facts — especially the fact that she is not being persecuted for political reasons.

Time to stick to facts, Maria.