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Nationwide round-up (12/03/20)

Chief justice asked to leave ‘legacy’ of releasing political prisoners

Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta

SUPPORTERS and families of political prisoners have asked Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, who announced early this week his plan to retire early in March, to grant the “extraordinary legal remedy” for their release to help address congestion in jails amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter addressed to Mr. Peralta, Fides M. Lim, spokesperson of support group Kapatid and wife of political prisoner Vicente P. Ladlad, asked the chief justice to “leave a lasting legacy” before his early retirement on March 27, 2021 by promulgating the Writ of Kalayaan. They noted that the Writ of Kalayaan proposed by Associate Justice Mario Victor F. Leonen in his opinion on the case of political prisoners is an “extraordinary legal remedy grounded on social justice and humanity to address the problems of jail congestion, subhuman prison conditions” while the coronavirus remains a threat. More than 20 political prisoners asked the court in April to allow their release on humanitarian grounds due to the pandemic. The court, however, referred their cases to the respective trial courts where they are pending, treating their petition as application for bail or recognizance. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Ressa faces 2nd cyber-libel case

Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria A. Ressa is facing her second cyber-libel charge filed by businessman Wilfredo D. Keng, the same petitioner in the first case. Makati’s Office of the City Prosecutor, in a resolution dated Nov. 10, indicted Ms. Ressa of cyberlibel in connection with her social media posts on Twitter in February 2019. Ms. Ressa’s post read: “Here’s the 2002 article on the ‘private businessman’ who filed the cyber-libel case, which was thrown out by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) then revived by the DOJ (Department of Justice). #HoldTheLine.” Apart from the article, the post also contained images of the 2002 article of Philippine Star, which linked Mr. Keng to the death of a former Manila councilor. The article also stated that he was involved in smuggling of fake cigarettes and other illegal activities. The prosecutor’s resolution said Ms. Ressa “acted with malice” as she did not ask for the side of the complainant before publishing her twitter post and acted “with reckless disregard whether the contents of the Twitter post was false or not.” Ms. Ressa has asked the court to dismiss the second case, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Cybercrime Act, which states that the law penalizes only the author of the libelous statement or article, and sharing over social media by another cannot be punished. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Pacquiao to lead ruling PDP-Laban in preparation for 2022 polls

RULING party Partido Demokratiko Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has named Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao as acting national president ahead of the 2022 national elections. Mr. Pacquiao will be replacing Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, who will now serve as the executive vice chairman of the party to which President Rodrigo R. Duterte belongs. “Senator Koko Pimentel has passed on the practical day-to-day leadership of the Party to one with new, ‘modern’ ideas and one who has the time, energy, and boldness to prepare the Party for the 2022 national and local elections,” PDP-Laban Executive Director Ron Munsayac said in a statement released Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, Speaker and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco also took over as the new executive vice president. Mr. Munsayac said it is still too early to talk about the 2022 elections, when asked whether Mr. Pacquiao is being positioned to run as a presidential candidate. “What we can expect under a Manny Pacquiao-led PDP Laban is more activities and avenues to help our kababayans (countrymen) in the grassroots level,” he told reporters over phone message Thursday. Mr. Pimentel added that Mr. Pacquiao, a world boxing champion, will be able to discipline current members and instill principle-based politics as well as educate PDP-Laban about his advocacy on peace and economy. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

SolGen tracks hackers of its career portal

THE Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is now tracking those who hacked its career portal on Dec. 1. In a statement Thursday, the OSG confirmed that an entity identified as Phantom Troupe uploaded several files on its online job application site. “The unauthorized access resulted in the introduction of an altered screen displaying the message ‘Stop blackmailing the NTC! Give ABS-CBN provisional authority!’,” it said. The OSG said it already improved security measures and is probing the matter as well as seeking assistance of intelligence and investigation agencies to identify those behind the incident. Hacking is a criminal offense under the Cybercrime Law, with penalties of up to 12 years of imprisonment. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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