San Beda lawyer takes to school former bar topnotcher & UP professor for ‘outrageous’ comment in reaction to Maria Ressa’s arrest!

The Maria Ressa cyberlibel case has been hotly debated on social media by supporters of the opposing camps.

Lawyers Erin Tanada and Leni Robredo argued that since the libelous article of Rappler was published online before the cyberlibel law was passed, ergo, no crime was committed.

Adding more spice in the debate of the cyberlibel case versus Maria Ressa was former Solicitor General Pilo Hilbay, senate seat aspirant, former bar topnotcher and UP College of Law graduate.

On Twitter, Hilbay tweeted, “Maria Ressa is arrested over a supposed crime committed before the law was even passed. She was arrested to ensure she can’t immediately post bail. You don’t need to be a lawyer to know this is clearly outrageous.”

Hilbay’s tweet garnered more than 13,000 likes and 4,000 retweets since posting it on February 13.

San Bedan lawyer Bruce Rivera couldn’t help but react, I can imagine with his rolled eyes on Facebook.

Rivera said he was perplexed how a former bar topnotcher and a former Solicitor General at that would limit his appreciation of facts to the barest angle.

“Actus non facit reum nisi mena sit rea” is an elementary principle and everyone knows that. Rivera joked that even mediocre San Beda lawyer like him knows that.

Rivera remarked that he found it puzzling that a former bar topnotcher like Hilbay can discount the substantial distinction between libel and cyberlibel in light of the advancement of technology.

Rivera, who was a former law professor in San Beda Law School, went on to give Hilbay, who by way also teaches law in UP College of Law a brief refresher course on cyberlibel law.


I know you are a bar topnotcher so it perplexes me how you will only limit your appreciation of facts to the barest of angles. Actus non facit reum nisi mena sit rea is an elementary principle and everyone knows that, even mediocre Bedan lawyers like me.

Ang hindi ko maintindihan is how a topnotch UP lawyer like you who has become the SolGen of this great nation can discount the substantial distinction between libel and cyberlibel in light of the advancement of technology. Let this humble lawyer of ordinary intelligence challenge your topnotcher argument.

Granting it was written in 2012 before the Cybercrime Law came to being, hence, the original article is not covered. Right? No issue about that. I have articles written in 2010 that FB still uses to suspend me but that is not the issue here. The point here is that, when you write things in the past, it is the past and thus should remain there.

But what if I revisit it. Why would she modify it if it was a past publication. You cannot do that to a newspaper article or a TV program. When you modify, albeit just to correct clerical errors, it means, you are reintroducing it to the online readers who would have forgotten about it. Hence, the perpetuity of online content should be considered as something more potent than a newspaper which we can only manage to see if we look into archives.

Simply put, how can a learned, Bar topnotcher lawyer simply discount a possible legal question of law which is valid because it is plausible. Why? If we allow Ressa’s argument to be used, then we defeat the purpose of the Cybercrime Law. How, well…all people can just go back to any online article before September 2012 and modify it to add more damning information on anybody and the Cybercrime Law will not apply because the original date of posting will be reckoning point.

If I want to demean you, I can just go back to a 2009 post of mine and attribute something criminal about you and when you will file a case against me, I can use the Ressa defense, that is, I only modified it in 2019 but I originally wrote in 2009. Is that just or even moral?

That is the absurdity you are supporting, Sir.

Bruce Villafuerte Rivera

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