Wilfredo Keng on guilty verdict for cyber libel vs Rappler’s Ressa, Santos: I have been vindicated

The first page of the statement of Wilfredo Keng, the complainant in the cyber libel case against Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr.

(Eagle News)–The businessman who acted as the private complainant in the cyber libel case against Rappler’s Maria Ressa and its former researcher said he has been “vindicated” by the court’s ruling that found them guilty.

In a statement, Wilfredo Keng said this was “at least to the extent possible considering the damage had already been done.”

“As I have proven in the course of the trial, I have never been investigated or summoned for, much less charged with or convicted of any wrongdoing or illegal act by any law enforcement agency whether here or abroad,” he said.

According to Keng, Ressa never disputed this and “has simply attempted to hide behind a technical plea: na sa kabila ng kasinungalingan, hindi na ako maaaring magreklamo dahil lumipas na ang panahon kung kailan ko dapat isampa ito.”

Keng said while this has “justly” failed, Ressa however “then dares to publicly connect my private suit to an alleged governmental attack on the Philippine free press.”

“This case is NOT of the government. I am a private citizen and this is a private suit. I filed my complaint prior to or independently of any case the Philippine government may have filed against Ressa,” he reiterated, noting that it had been more than three years since he filed the case.

He added this was “NOT a fight against press freedom, an institution I deeply respect and uphold”; for years he said he has “personally suffered from Rappler’s false accusations against me, which false accusations have no place in a responsible and free press..”

The second page of Keng’s statement after a Manila court handed down the guilty verdict against Ressa and Santos.

“My filing AND winning this case assures Filipinos that published falsehoods will not remain unchallenged and unchecked in this jurisdiction but instead will be dealt with by law, strengthening the people’s respect for the Philippine media in the years to come,” he said.

He said he has filed another complaint against Ressa “for yet again another libelous act” before the Makati Prosecutors Office but did not elaborate.

Ressa and Rappler former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were found guilty of cyber libel by a Manila court on Monday, June 15.

The complaint stems from a story Rappler published in 2012 and later republished in 2014 on Keng.

In the story, Rappler alleged Keng was involved in smuggling  and other illegal activities, citing what it said was an intelligence report.

But Keng has vehemently denied the allegations, and the Manila court said the allegations were found to have been false during the course of the trial.