Urgent Action Update: Journalist Arrested Twice in 6 Weeks (Philippines: UA 20.19)

Maria Ressa, human rights defender and executive editor of online news outlet Rappler, was arrested again on 29 March for allegedly violating the Philippines’ Anti-Dummy Law, which punishes Filipinos who allow their names or citizenship to be used to evade laws on the nationalization of certain rights, franchises or privileges. Ressa was released several hours later after posting bail of PhP90,000 (approx. USD1,700); this was the second time she has been arrested in a matter of weeks. Rappler has been a consistent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, and Ressa’s arrest appears to be part of broader campaign to silence critics of the government.



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Menardo I. Guevarra, Secretary
Department of Justice
DOJ Building, Padre Faura Street, Ermita,
Manila, 1000, Philippines
Phone: (+632) 523 8482 to 98
Email: [email protected]
H.E. Jose Manuel G. Romualdez
Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 467 9300, 202 467 9366
Fax: 202 467 9417
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Twitter: @PhilippinesUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador


Dear Secretary Guevarra:

I am writing to express my dismay at the arrest, yet again, of Maria Ressa, executive editor of news outlet Rappler, over alleged violations of the Philippine’s Anti-Dummy Law. This comes only about a month and a half after her previous arrest on politically-motivated cyber-libel charges. Rappler has been a consistent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, publishing detailed investigations into some of the thousands of extrajudicial executions committed by police and armed vigilantes during drug-related operations. The arrest of Maria Ressa on 29 March 2019, for the alleged violation of the country’s Anti-Dummy Law, is the latest attack against her and Rappler. It comes close on the heels of her previous arrest on 13 February 2019, on what appear to be politically-motivated charges of cyber-libel. Tax evasion charges were also brought in December 2018 against Maria Ressa and her company, Rappler Holdings Corp. – charges that are still pending in court. Amnesty International believes these, too, are trumped-up charges that were designed to stifle criticism of the President and his ‘war on drugs.’

I urge your office to act swiftly to uphold and protect the freedom of the press. Specifically, I urge you to drop the charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler, which appear to be solely motivated by political interests; end the harassment of the media, journalists, and critics of the Duterte administration, and take measures to guarantee their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Thank you for your kind attention.