The dismissal of the cases against journalist and IAWRT Communications Officer Lady Ann Salem at the Court of Appeals (CA) was cause for celebration among IAWRT and journalists’ communities in the Philippines and elsewhere. It was the case that had been impending since Salem was set free—almost two years—as the government lawyers promptly pursued the trumped-up cases against her.
While the case was pending at the CA, Salem worked to launch IAWRT’s Digital Safe House in the Philippines in 2021 and continued as IAWRT Communications Officer up to the present. She is also a current media fellow of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development.
In January and August this year, the Appellate Court dismissed the government’s lawyer’s petition and upheld the trial court’s findings that set Salem free after almost three months in jail. Among them, the CA recognized how the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the police and their informant revealed the impossibility of their claims and how Salem’s rights were violated in the search that was implemented at her home on December 10, 2020. Salem’s case at the trial court was among the fastest dismissal of cases of political persecution in the country.
However, the government lawyers moved to go after Salem up to the Highest Court in the Philippines when they filed their appeal to the CA decision on September 27, made known to Salem and her counsels on October 13.
Salem was also recently red-tagged by former government officials from the previous Duterte administration over the TV network SMNI, where the hosts said that freed political prisoners like Salem should be charged with the Anti-Terrorism Law.
IAWRT trusts that justice will prevail and that the Ph Supreme Court will find this case to be a teaching moment for upholding the constitutional rights of Filipinos against unreasonable search and seizures and arrests, abuse of authority and political persecution.