Saturday, January 22

In Rodrigo Duterte’s war against press freedom, Maria Ressa defends the truth | Rachel Obordo

For the first time, a Filipino person, Maria Ressa, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “a victory for Filipinos, for journalists and for the global struggle to defend press freedom”, like her colleague. Lian buan puts.

Ressa, co-founder and CEO of news site Rappler, shares the award with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov in recognition of his individual activism and tireless struggles for press freedom. She is a symbol of courage in light of the human rights situation in the Philippines. Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, even non-drug residents have been affected by the thousands of extrajudicial executions that have occurred. According to Human rights observer, during the Covid shutdown between April and July 2020, the country saw the number of murders increase by more than 50%.

Ressa and Rappler have fought to keep the reality of Duerte’s “war on drugs” and its aftermath in the spotlight. It has also come to symbolize the struggle and struggles that many Filipinos experience on a daily basis. Almost all Filipinos can tell you a story of how someone has been attacked, killed or kidnapped in front of them, often in a case of mistaken identity. No family, including mine, has been affected by the abuse of power and corruption that has been inflicted on the public.

Official government figures indicate that since 2016, at least 6,117 suspected drug traffickers have been killed during police and security operations. However, the un appointment that in June 2020, government figures already registered more than 8,600 deaths.

Drugs are not uncommon in the impoverished urban areas of the Philippines, but the number of lives affected by Duterte’s bloody war is innumerable. Children of victims are left behind and often find themselves struggling to survive in an already difficult environment, living in overcrowded conditions and often struggling to access clean water and sanitation. Many, especially those from large families, all under one roof, suffer from malnutrition. As Human Rights Watch said in a recent report, the death of a family member who was earning money leaves the victims’ children facing extreme financial hardship. Many of them have suffered psychological distress, which has sometimes led them to drop out of school and take paid work from an early age. Others have been intimidated by their peers and have even been abandoned to live on the streets. And with many seeking justice and accountability, Ressa has been ruthless in her fight for the truth.

Faced with multiple threats, criminal charges, and two arrests, Ressa has continued to speak out against Duterte and safeguard freedom of expression. He joins Filipino environmental activists, liberal politicians, and LGBT groups and individuals who have been threatened and targeted for defying administration discrimination and promoting disinformation. According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, by the end of 2020, 19 journalists had been killed under the Duterte administration, while at least 171 cases where journalists were threatened or attacked between June 2016 and April 2020. State agents are often the alleged perpetrators of these actions, while journalists frequently face harassment and threats of defamation or that coverage is prevented. The Philippines remains a dangerous place for those who work in the press.

In 2017, Rappler was charged with violating the Philippine constitution and Duterte declared it in his State of the Union address as “wholly owned by Americans.” He even went on to say, “Not only is Rappler’s news fake, but being Filipino is also fake.” The criticisms were later found to be unfounded, but marked the beginning of a retaliation against Ressa, his colleagues, and his mission for the truth. She and a former Rappler investigator, Reynaldo Santos Jr, are currently out on bail after being convicted of cyber defamation in June 2020 and facing up to six years in prison. They have filed an appeal and await its outcome.

Despite these continuous attacks, Ressa has stood firm in what can only be described as a heroic act of defiance and bravery. Journalism and democracy in the Philippines may be approaching the brink, but the fact that Ressa wins the Nobel Peace Prize is a bright light in a long, dark tunnel.

Just a glance at social media confirms it. Former Presidential Spokesperson Edwin lacierda said, “You [sic] makes our country proud in the midst of impunity and the narrowing of the democratic space “, while the human rights lawyer Leni Robredo has affirmed it”tireless efforts … for truth and responsibility”. For me, as a Filipino journalist, Ressa is an inspiration. For other people around the world and especially in the Philippines, her work makes it possible to keep fighting for the good fight, or “hold the line,” as Ressa calls it.

in a live chat with RapplerRessa said: “When you don’t have facts, you don’t have the truth, you don’t have confidence. Trust is what holds us together to solve the complex problems facing our world today. ”The award is a vindication of the work that she and her colleagues at Rappler have done, not only for the Philippines but for press freedom and freedom. democracy worldwide. He goes on to say that he hopes victory will be “energy for all of us to continue the battle for the facts.” Let us join it and not be silenced.

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