By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA – Rappler CEO and veteran journalist Maria Ressa highlighted the continuing attacks against Filipino journalists as she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize award in Oslo, Norway yesterday, International Human Rights Day.
“I stand before you, a representative of every journalist around the world who is forced to sacrifice so much to hold the line, to stay true to our values and mission: to bring you the truth and hold power to account,” said Ressa as she paid tribute to journalists all over the world who have been persecuted for doing their job.
Ressa shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. She is the first working journalist to receive the award since 1936 and the first Filipino to receive this award since its establishment in 1895.
"Every day, I live with the real threat of spending the rest of my life in jail just because I’m a journalist. When I go home, I have no idea what the future holds, but it’s worth the risk."
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) December 10, 2021
In her acceptance speech, she highlighted that 22 journalists have been killed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. Among the most recent was Jess Malabanan, a former journalist for international news Reuters who covered the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, who was shot dead while tending to their small store in Calbayog City, Samar on the evening of December 9.
Ressa also mentioned Frenchiemae Cumpio, a community journalist based in Tacloban City, who remains incarcerated over trumped-up cases.
The new Nobel laureate, who was found guilty of cybercrime last year along with former colleague Reynaldo Santos Jr., is still facing seven cases. All these cases, press freedom advocates said, are but attempts to silence her and her media organization.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be here today. Every day, I live with the real threat of spending the rest of my life in jail because I’m a journalist. When I go home, I have no idea what the future holds, but it’s worth the risk,” Ressa said.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for a journalist, according to the 2021 World Press Freedom report of international media watchdog Reporters Without Border (RSF).
Journalists here, too, have been subjected to harassment and red-tagging. With the national elections looming, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said such attacks may increase – as seen in the jeering of ABSCBN journalists who were covering a gathering where presidential aspirant and son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was attending. Fortunately, the group said, the incident did not escalate.