Businessman Wilfredo Keng had decided to fight against the founder of Filipino online news site Rappler and acclaimed journalist, Maria Ressa, after the agency published a news article in 2012 linking him to unlawful acts including drug smuggling and human trafficking.
The said article also reported his alleged connection between late former impeached Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, and wealthy businessmen including Keng himself.
Because of this, Keng and his legal team approached Rappler to correct the accusations against him or get his side of the story to the point of pleading and begging them. They even showed evidence from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), but was rejected by the said media organization.
“Thereafter our client presented to Rappler all the pertinent evidence including certifications from PDEA and NBI that he was never involved in any crime in the 37 years of doing business in the Philippines, so they can amend the article or add his side. But Rappler, unmindful of the damaging effect of their defamatory article, turned a blind eye and deaf ear,” they revealed.
In Keng’s press statement, he said that he has proven no connections or involvement in any kind of illegal activities and has never been investigated, much less arrested or convicted in the country or abroad. The businessman had no choice, but to seek help from the judicial court.
“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. Where else can I go to seek justice and protection but our courts? And so I did,” he said.
Keng mentioned that he has been a private, hardworking businessman for almost four decades now, but vowed to fight until the end of the case just to protect his family from the allegations against him.
“When I filed this private complaint more than three years ago, I knew that this was going to be a long and painful process for me and my family. Still, I vowed to see this case to the very end. This is my bid to protect my name, and my sacrifice for my children and our future generations, who deserve nothing less than freedom in the form of absolute truth,” he said.
He was determined to finish the case despite going against one of the dubbed “Top 100 Most Influential Women in the World” of Time Magazine – Maria Ressa herself since he believes he did nothing to deserve the false accusations pointed to him.
Meanwhile, the Manila Regional Trial Court promulgated Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. guilty of cyber libel, sentencing them to up to six years in prison and ordering them to pay Keng P400,000 for the damages.