ONLINE NEWS site Rappler and its executive editor, Maria A. Ressa, have asked a Manila court to dismiss the cyberlibel case against them.

In the demurrer to the prosecution’s evidence filed Oct. 18 at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46, they said the prosecution failed to establish that there was an “actual malice” on the part of the accused, including former researcher Reynaldo Santos, Jr.

“The prosecution has failed to show any actual malice on the part of accused Santos Jr., Ressa, and Rappler Inc. as there are no defamatory statements attributable to Santos Jr., Ressa, and Rappler, Inc.,” the demurrer read.

They noted that the parts of the article included in the information filed before the court cited previous reports on the complainant’s alleged involvement in illegal activities and it was not Mr. Santos who linked him to those.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo D. Keng over a Rappler article published May 29, 2012 and updated in February 2014. The article reported that Mr. Keng was the alleged owner of the vehicle used by former chief justice Renato C. Corona and that he was involved in illegal activities.

The Justice department indicted them in January 2019 and the case was filed in court the next month.

The defendants also argued that there was no proof of the participatioin of Ms. Ressa and Mr. Santos in the republishing of the allegedly defamatory article on Feb. 19, 2014.

They also said that the citation of the prosecution of a Supreme Court ruling in 1988 as the basis for the “multiple publication rule” only applies to print media and not online media.

They claimed that the prosecution has not “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that there is an injury to reputation which is “an essential element of defamation.”

A demurrer to prosecution’s evidence is a move to dismiss a case for insufficiency of evidence. If the motion is granted, the accused will be acquitted. —Vann Marlo M. Villegas