When Cyber Libel Restrains Press Freedom: The Case of Maria Ressa


Local and international journalism organizations continuously call for the decriminalization of libel, monitor harassment and impunity toward media practitioners, and push for the free speech of media organizations and their journalists. In the Philippines, threats to journalism can hardly disappear when tyrants are elected into government: freedoms of expression and of the press are continuously challenged by defamation laws, bias allegations, and franchise issues. A widely known instance of press intimidation through cyber libel is the series of cases filed against Nobel laureate Maria Ressa. Libel has long been a criminal offense in the country, but it was only in 2012 that cyber libel was signed into law. Since the approval of the cyber libel law, a total of 3,809 cases have been handled by the National Prosecution Service. In order to restore press freedom in the country, a collective effort and understanding of the Philippine media landscape are needed. Using critical theory frameworks, along with four theories of the press, the paper analyzes the complexities and contradictions of marginalization and resistance in the Philippine journalism landscape, particularly surrounding the cyber libel case against Rappler founder Maria Ressa. The paper looks at journalists and the press as a marginalized group dominated by authoritarian governments and critiques the domination in structures that produce privilege for some and oppression for others.

Author Information
Rainielle Kyle M. Guison, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Philippines
Aileen F. Macalintal, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Philippines

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2023
Stream: Law

This paper is part of the MediAsia2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Guison R., & Macalintal A. (2023) When Cyber Libel Restrains Press Freedom: The Case of Maria Ressa ISSN: 2186-5906 – The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2186-5906.2023.19
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2186-5906.2023.19

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon