(Eagle News) — The businessman who filed cyber libel charges against Rappler, its chief executive officer Maria Ressa and former reporter Reynaldo Santos slammed on Thursday, Feb. 14, the three for “continu(ing) to hold themselves high above any accountability…” for the article that he said defamed him.
Speaking for the first time on the issue, Wilfredo Keng, whom Rappler described in the assailed article as a “controversial” businessman possibly linked to “shady deals” and with links to illegal drugs, murder and human trafficking, noted in a statement that Ressa, Santos and Rappler “have not once denied having published clear defamations against me, but simply continue to hide behind a single claim: that unfortunately for me, I allegedly can no longer complain.”
He said the three also “attempt to mislead the public by releasing ‘news’ that my complaint against them was purportedly ‘dismissed’ by the National Bureau of Investigation..”
“Rappler’s inaccurate, nay, reckless reports and statements continue to be quoted by other news outfits, thereby perpetuating the clearly incorrect version of the story. Such reckless, premature and inaccurate reporting on the government processes reek of actual malice and cyber bullying and border on the intentional propagation of ‘fake news,'” Keng said.
Keng said that in the first place, before he pursued the charges against them, he “tried to formally and informally communicate with Rappler in order to have the said article taken down, clear my name and restore my reputation, at least to the extent possible given the fact that irreparable damage had already been done, multiplied a million-fold because Rappler’s website continues to be accessible by the whole world.”
He noted that Rappler, Ressa and Santos “never attempted to obtain” his side on the “crimes they wrongly imputed to me, or to fact-check their baseless attacks against my name” in the article, after all.
He said he has “never had a criminal record,” and for “almost four decades” since he started working, has “consistently secured official clearance from the (NBI) certifying” that he has never been involved in any criminal activities.
“Since the 1980s, I have never been investigated by or summoned before any law enforcement agency in connection with any alleged criminal act, much less have I been indicted, arrested, detained or convicted of any crime in the Philippines,” he said.
In turn, however, Rappler, Keng said, “through formal and informal channels, repeatedly promised me that they will take down the subject article but never did.”
In fact, he said “the libelous attacks remain posted on their website until now.”
“Against this kind of limitless harassment and wanton disregard for the rule of law, I was left with no other choice but to file a case and seek protection from our courts,” Keng said.
Keng said he was grateful that “after the conduct of a lengthy and meticulous investigation, the Department of Justice has categorically resolved to criminally charge (them) with cyber libel in court…”
He said he hoped “to not just seek redress for (himself) and his family, but to move all other victims of cyber libel and cyber bullying to stand up and seek just and legal action.”
“In the end, this story is not just about an ordinary suit filed by a private and hardworking citizen to clear his name. It is, in reality, a test case on how the Philippine legal and judicial system will fare against the dangerous precedent that is being set by one reckless and irresponsible member of the media and of the online community,” Keng said.
“If left unaccountable, Rappler, Ressa and Santos’ impunity will be emulated and replicated, and will destroy not just individual lives but our entire country,” Keng added.