Businessman Wilfredo Keng and his camp revealed on Monday, June 15, that he previously asked Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa several times to correct false public allegations against him or to publish his side of the story, but refused to do so.
Keng stated in his press statement that he “pleaded and begged” Ressa and Rappler, but the online news site “denied him of the right to tell his story” regarding the issue.
He also mentioned that he showed Rappler some National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) clearances to clear him of the wrong report that was published. However, according to Keng’s team, no change or correction of the false information was made.
“It is of public record: My counsel had pleaded and begged with Rappler to correct their false public accusations that I am a criminal, or at the very least, to publish my side. They refused. They have denied me my right to clear my name,” he emphasized.
Keng also said that Ressa also tried to associate him with an alleged attack on the country’s free press led by the government and said he has no connections in any way to the Philippine government.
The businessman filed the cyber libel lawsuit due to Rappler identifying him in an article released in 2012 as one of the wealthy businessmen who allegedly allowed late former chief justice Renato Corona to use his vehicle, who was also in the process of impeachment in 2011. Adding fuel to fire, he was also linked to crimes of human trafficking, drug and cigarette smuggling, and murder.
“As I have proven in the course of the trial, I have never been investigated or summoned for, much less charged with or convicted of, any wrongdoing or illegal act by any law enforcement agency whether here or abroad,” he remarked.
According to his press statement, he testified in open court and went through all stages of the legal process with no shortcuts or exemptions for more than three years, unlike the Rappler CEO who attended hearings but never once went and testified in the witness stand.
He also emphasized that he filed the case in a fair and just manner as a private individual. While Ressa had linked him to an alleged attack on the free press in the Philippines, he insisted that his case had nothing to do with the said accusation towards him.
“This is not a fight against the Press Freedom, an institution I deeply respect and uphold. For years, I have personally suffered from Rappler’s false accusations against me, which false accusations have no place in a responsible and free press,” he said, stressing out his innocence on the purported connection to the government.