After leaks, 20 years in Bilibid for Maria Ressa & Co?

Two days ago, American news organization “The Intercept” published the complete transcript of United States President Donald Trump's 02 May 2017 call to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte [Intercept].

A part of the intercept article reads:
“The transcript... is an official document of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. Well-placed sources at the Palace and the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed its authenticity to reporters for the Philippine news outlet Rappler, which collaborated with The Intercept on this story.”

Ah, Maria Ressa! You are in big, big trouble!

But before anything else, let me give you run down of the contents of that controversial transcript.

Trump calls Duterte

The alleged call, whose transcript was published in [Document Cloud], started with basic niceties, with Trump congratulating Duterte for the latter's War on Narcopolitics. Things, however, escalated quickly when Duterte said ASEAN members are worried that North Korea and that ASEAN supports the Americans' decision to continuously pressure North Korea.

The two leaders went on to discuss North Korea's nuclear capabilities, with Trump telling Duterte that North Korea “has got the powder, but he doesn't have the delivery system.”, which means that Kim Jong Un has the nuclear warheads, but he still doesn't have the missiles to send them to their prospective targets.
Trump, however, expressed fears that North Korea may have that delivery system soon, and that future development may quickly escalate into a Nuclear War, something that Trump is clearly reluctant to engage in.

The ensuing exchange showed two World Leaders trying to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean in lieu of a nuclear one.

Trump asked for Duterte's help in speaking with China, as the Philippines' renewed friendship with China places the former in a better position than Trump, who has publicly castigated China for god knows how often.

Duterte said China has “the last card, the ace,” and that the latter “should make a last ditch effort to tell [Kim Jong Un] to lay off.”

Trump agreed and said he “hopes China solves the problem” but “if China doesn't do it, [the US] will do it,” as he mentions the presence of two US nuclear-armed submarines near the Korean Peninsula.

Duterte then offered to tell China's Xi Jinping that the international community will back off to allow China to negotiate with North Korea, as the alternative – a nuclear solution – is bad for everybody.

After reading the leaked classified transcript, I saw that both presidents were trying their best to avert a nuclear war by attempting to exhaust all available diplomatic options. Essentially, Trump wants to ask China if the latter can take care of the North Korean issue first, and he needed Duterte to mediate.

The bottom-line 

The call showed two leaders who are trying to prevent a nuclear war, and Maria Ressa thought that leaking that plan to the public is a good idea.


In case Maria Ressa's IQ can't grasp the idea yet, here are the four most important things contained in the transcript:
  1. Trump congratulates Duterte on the latter's controversial War on Narcopolitics, although this is not the main topic of the conversation and was used only to build rapport.
  2. ASEAN is worried about North Korea and the prospect of a nuclear war.
  3. The US has two nuclear submarines stationed near the Korean Peninsula.
  4. Duterte is serving as the go-between of China and the United States in order to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear threat.
The first and second aren't new, and the only things that the transcript's leak managed to reveal are the locations of American nuclear submarines and Duterte's intermediation, and these are two things that THE PUBLIC DOES NOT NEED TO KNOW ABOUT.

Yes, in as far as this conversation is concerned, both Trump and Duterte were trying to be statesmen, and Trump's request was perfectly reasonable. I do not see anything inherently wrong with the contents of their conversation.

But Rappler and the Intercept leaked it anyway. So what now?

The Consequences of the Leak

Because of Ressa's and Rappler's stupidity...
  1. North Korea has now confirmed that the US can nuke them at any moment, making the leaders of the rogue state even more paranoid. 
  2. North Korea may lose some trust on his de facto ally, China, as it appears to be conspiring with the Philippines and the United States in bringing him down, making it more difficult for China to diplomatically engage the isolationist regime. 
  3. And most importantly, I think that we have finally entered the North Korean National Security Radar. 
You see, North Korea already hates America, but North Korea has never really cared much about the Philippines, until now. Of course, Kim Jong Un may just shrug off Duterte's involvement, but Kim's unpredictability makes it difficult for me to count on that.

For one, Kim may overreact and start threatening the Philippines with military retaliation. Yes, Trump said Kim has no ICBMs that can deliver nuclear payloads. But all Kim needs to hit the Philippines are intermediate range missiles, such as the Pukkuksong-1, which is expected to be operation this year [Yonhap]. Musudan and Taepodong missiles may also suffice.

You see that dark yellow circle? Luzon is in it. That red circle? THE REST OF THE F*CKING PHILIPPINES!

Maria Ressa, why are you so stupid?

Ressa's Defense

The Intercept published the article with the phrase “in partnership with Rappler”.  That is very interesting to point out, because it appears that Rappler attempted to evade liability through its decision not to publish it on its own website.

But why did Rappler choose the Intercept? Well, Omidyar Network is an investor in Rappler, an independent news organization based in the Philippines while The Intercept’s publisher, First Look Media, was founded by Pierre Omidyar [Intercept].

This is the same Omidyar network that is reported to have conspired with the CIA to facilitate regime change in the Ukraine [Pando]. It also funds Ukrainian Hromadke.TV which spews out anti-Putin propaganda [Forbes].

Yes, Maria Ressa's Rappler helped leak a confidential document despite the lack of journalistic value. And this diplomatic embarrassment, facilitated by Ressa's blind hatred of the Duterte administration, has resulted in creating new global, regional, national security risks.

Ambassador Bobi Tiglao writes [MT]:
"Rappler’s scoop has damaged the country’s image irreparably. It has made us a laughingstock of the whole world, with people saying that we have a government that can’t keep state secrets, according to my diplomatic sources who are shocked at the reports. 
'How can any head of state now talk to your President frankly, when his talk with the world’s most powerful head of state, who has his own strict protocols for confidentiality, was released to the world, word for word?' a high-ranking foreign diplomat rhetorically asked. Because of this leak which became ammo for his many critics, I’m sure Trump will never talk to Duterte again. 
Never has such a confidential conversation between heads of state been made public. Even the infamous Wikileaks website managed to disclose only reports written by diplomatic staff, and not transcripts of such confidential talks. Never in our modern history has such a document of the highest level of confidentiality been publicly released."
Yes, it was a DFA mole that leaked the transcript, but what Ressa should have done is contact the proper authorities so that they can deal with mole and possibly prevent the leak. Instead, she conspired with it, to the detriment of National Interest.


The DFA speaks

In a press conference held on 24 May 2017 in Moscow, Russia, I asked Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano the following question:
"Fifteen hours ago, The Intercept, in partnership with, leaked the official transcript of phone call between Donald Trump and our president, President Duterte, possibly in violation of Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code and also of the Cybercrime Law. If the documents are found to be authentic, will the Department of Foreign Affairs consider investigating or filing charges against Rappler?"

Will DFA sue Rappler for breaching National Security?
ThinkingPinoy asks Foreign Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano about (1) the possibility of having talks with the Russian Federation concerning the plight of Russia OFWs and (2) potential legal action against Rappler for threatening national security by leaking classified data.

Cayetano clearly gave Rapplerette Pia Ranada Robles the chance to ask a follow-up question, but she didn't ask any. Nganga.
Posted by ThinkingPinoy on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cayetano gave a long-winding response that's expected from a diplomat. Among other things, he said:
"I ordered a discreet internal investigation to see if, in fact, there was a leak or not... Please help us with operational security... Be satisfied sometimes with the lack of information, not because we're not transparent, but because lives are at stake."
As a follow up, I asked:
"The problem here is, it's not supposed to be seen by anyone else aside from the President and you guys (cabinet) so maybe, Rappler may have made us a legitimate target of North Korean missiles, so my question here is, will we reward organizations like these... maybe a slap on the wrist, or are we going to file charges if and when it's found out that they violated the law?"
Cayetano said:
"I don't want to jump the gun but allow me to first find out what happened but definitely, let me put it this way: We have a law, we will follow that law."
And there were have it, guys.

What happens when you break the law? You get sued and you go to jail.

The Law

I will not comment on whether The Intercept broke any law, as they're based in the United States and are thus outside of Philippine jurisdiction. That would be crying over spilled milk.

Rappler, however, does not enjoy the same geographical perks.

Rappler's branding would not have been used in the Intercept article without permission from Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, something that Ressa tacitly admitted in a Facebook post.

Maria Ressa herself tacitly admitted to helping leak the transcript of the phone call between President Rody Duterte and Donald Trump, and she justified her actions by saying that the public has the right to know what the two talked about because what they said “privately differs from their public positions.”

Ressa, YOU IDIOT, that is called politics and diplomacy. For all your arrogance in claiming four decades of intel experience, do you not know about the backdoor negotiations during the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis that averted a nuclear Armageddon?

And that is not very different to what Duterte was trying to avert, and all you managed to do was to make his job much more difficult.


I consulted with a couple of high-profile Filipino lawyers and they told me that what Ressa's facilitation of the classified document's leakage may be punishable under existing Philippine laws. I cannot divulge their identities because they do consultancy work for the government.

Inciting to War or Giving Motives for Reprisals

Asked about potential cases that can be filed versus Ressa, they independently cited Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code [ChanRobles], described as “Inciting to war or giving motives for reprisals”, which reads:
Art. 118. Inciting to war or giving motives for reprisals. — The penalty of reclusion temporal shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee, and that of prision mayor upon any private individual, who, by unlawful or unauthorized acts provokes or gives occasion for a war involving or liable to involve the Philippine Islands or exposes Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property.
According to a typical Philippine Law Reviewer, there are three elements in this law [PLR]:
  1. That the offender performs unlawful or unauthorized acts
  2. That such acts provoke or give occasion for a war involving or liable to involve the Philippines or expose Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property
  3. Crime is committed in time of peace, intent is immaterial
Note that “Reprisals” is not limited to military action. It could be economic reprisals, or denial of entry into their country. Example. X burns Chinese flag. If China bans the entry of Filipinos into China, that is already reprisal. And the reprisal need not materialize, as the law only requires exposure.

In Ressa's case:
  1. The unauthorized act is the facilitation of the transcript's leakage, 
  2. The act exposes our country to a possible military reprisal from North Korea,
  3. And, Ressa's intent is irrelevant because she did it in time of peace.
To be fair to Ressa, I would've given her some leeway if her intent was valid, i.e. the contents of the leaked document are newsworthy. However, Manila Standard's former editor-in-chief Jojo Robles, who has over three decades of experience in the field of journalism, said [FB: Jojo Robles]:
"[There is a]lack of any real purpose for the disclosure. In the transcript, there is no impending threat of anything irregular that publication may prevent from happening, no divulging of a previous crime or conspiracy that will require publication to expose it belatedly. 
It's just two leaders talking frankly about mutual concerns, like Kim Jong-un, his missiles and the possible role of China. Nothing really urgent or explosive. 
Besides, there are security matters discussed that should never be published. Believe it or not, not all confidential information requires airing in public. And the media regularly receives confidential information -- which it always rates according to 'newsworthiness,' or what it perceives to be the importance of such information to the public it serves."
So no, there is no justification in publishing the document.

Now, if found guilty of violating RPC Art. 118, Ressa may be sentenced to prision mayor... but not quite yet.

Anti-cybercrime Law

The leakage was done online. Heck, Maria Ressa even had the balls to allow The Intercept to insert Rappler's branding right below the article's by-line, thus placing Ressa's criminal act within the reach of the Anti-Cybercrime Law of 2012.

The Anti-Cybercrime Law [RA 10175] Section 6 states:
All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.
Thus, it can be deduced that Ressa and her Rapplerettes may be sentenced to Reclusion Temporal, which is one degree higher than Prision Mayor. Reclusion Temporal is anywhere from 12-20 years, as opposed to the lighter prision mayor, which is 6-12 years.

Note, however, that everything here assumes only ONE COUNT of violating RPC 118. That is, Ressa and her Rapplerettes may have violated RPC 118 multiple times. But I wanna be nice here, so let's assume that Ressa and Co. violated RPC 118 only once.

Thus, Ressa may face 6 to 12 years of jail time for violating RPC Article 118, or even 12 to 20 years, if her violation is proven to involve computer systems.

But we all know Rappler takes pride in being an online-only news site, right?

On a final note...

Maria Ressa, but you and your college sorority blog Rappler are not exempt from Philippine Law. You knowingly aided a foreign entity in leaking classified documents. Regardless of your motive, what you did is a criminal act.

Yes, Miss Ressa, you are a criminal who has threatened National Security for the sake of whatever convoluted principles you claim to uphold.

Maria, I suggest that you spend less time whining and more time consulting the best lawyer your American financiers can afford, because you may soon say goodbye to your posh Estancia office and say hello to your new friends at Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

Though you can always try to plead insanity: I am inclined to believe you on that one if you will.

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