Philippine President’s spokesman, Rodrigo Duterte, said on Monday (11) that the fact that government-critical journalist Maria Ressa won the Nobel Prize is proof that “press freedom is alive” in the country .
Rappler news portal co-founder and Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize last Friday (8) for their efforts to “protect freedom of expression”.
Since Duterte took office in 2016, Ressa and Rappler have been the target of several criminal charges and investigations that, according to the lawyers of this media outlet, constitute harassment by the State at work. Among other topics on the site is coverage of the government’s bloody war against drug trafficking.
Duterte has already labeled Rappler a “false news branch,” and Ressa has been a victim of harassment on the networks.
“It’s a victory for a Filipina, and we are very happy,” Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said at a news conference.
“Freedom of the press is alive, and the proof is Maria Ressa’s Nobel Prize,” added Roque.
Philippine press outlets and human rights groups applauded the award as a “triumph” in a country ranked as one of the most dangerous in the world for journalists.
A former CNN journalist and author of “How to Stand Up to a Dictator,” Ressa, 58, is being sued in seven different cases.
He is currently free on bail. She is awaiting a decision on an appeal filed by her defense after being convicted of defamation last June. If found guilty in this case, she risks being sentenced to up to six years in prison.
Two other online libel cases were filed a few months ago.
Still, Duterte’s spokesman rejected the idea that Ressa was a problem for the government, insisting that “no one has ever been censored in the Philippines.”
“Maria Ressa has yet to clear her name in our courts,” added Roque, who called her a “convicted criminal”.
– Shield –
Speaking to AFP on Saturday (9), Ressa said she trusts the award will be a kind of protective shield for her and other Filipino journalists, who face physical attacks and cyberbullying.
“This ‘us against them’ was not created by journalists. It was created by people in power, who are committed to a way of governing that divides society,” he said, describing the award as a “dose of adrenaline”.
“I hope it allows journalists to do their jobs well, without fear,” he added.
For years, Maria Ressa has highlighted the violence that accompanies the anti-drug campaign initiated by Duterte. According to human rights organizations, this policy has already left tens of thousands of people dead. In September, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized his investigation.
Rappler is one of the media that publish hideous images of the murders and question their legal basis.
Other vehicles have paid dearly for coverage under this policy, such as the ABS-CBN radio, which lost its license last year.
Maria Ressa believes, however, that the Rappler’s independence allows her to defend herself.
“We don’t have other companies to protect, so it’s easy for us to defend ourselves,” he explained.
+ Until 2019, there were more people in prisons than on the Brazilian stock exchange
+ Aloe gel in the drink: see the benefits
+ Lemon-squeezing trick becomes a craze on social media
+ Chef playmate creates aphrodisiac recipe for Orgasm Day
+ Mercedes-Benz Sprinter wins motorhome version
+ Anorexia, an eating disorder that can lead to death
+ US agency warns: never wash raw chicken meat
+ Yasmin Brunet breaks the silence
+ Shark is captured in MA with the remains of youngsters missing in the stomach
+ See how much it costs to eat at the MasterChef judges’ restaurants
+ Auction of cars and motorcycles from Kombi to Nissan Frontier 0km