Postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown, judgment day for Ressa and former researcher-writer Rey Santos will take place in a court under quarantine restrictions
MANILA, Philippines – Initially scheduled on April 3 but postponed because of the coronavirus lockdown, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 has scheduled for June 15 the handing down of its verdict on Rappler, its CEO Maria Ressa, and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr in the high profile cyber libel case.
Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa finished the trial in only 8 months in what could be the quickest libel trial in recent history.
“Please be informed that the case is set for promulgation of judgment on June 15, 2020, at 8:30 am,” RTC Branch 46 said in a notice received by Rappler’s lawyers on Monday, June 1, the very first day of Metro Manila falling under general community quarantine.
Courts nationwide are now fully operational because of the relaxation of quarantine measures in the whole country. Virtual hearings have also been allowed.
For this case, the verdict will still be handed down in court, but a limited number of people can attend.
“Please be reminded that only counsels and parties to the case will be allowed inside the courtroom. This is in line with the safety protocols of the Court, in view of the Covid situation,” Branch 46 said in its notice.
Ressa was arrested on February 13, 2019, but trial started only on July 23 that same year. (READ: What you need to know about Rappler’s cyber libel case)