Maria Ressa, a Nobel Peace Prize against Duterte's 'war'
The Philippine journalist shares the award with Russian Dmitry Muratov. Founder of the news website Rappler, she has received ten arrest warrants for her coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs". She is the first Filipina to receive such a recognition. The country remains the seventh most dangerous in the world for journalists.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, founder of the news website Rappler, and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.
In announcing the award, the Nobel committee chair, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said: “Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.
“Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time,” she added.
Maria Ressa, the first Filipino to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. She founded Rappler in 2012, an online news website that “has focused critical attention on [President Rodrigo] Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign,” the committee writes.
What is more, Ressa and Rappler “have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse,” it added.
In recent years, the journalist has been the target of a series of attacks. For her cover of Duterte's ruthless "war on drugs", she ended up in jail twice.
Her tenth arrest warrant for cyber libel in less than two years shows “definitely a pattern of harassment,” Ressa, a former CNN correspondent, laments.
Despite the risks, Maria Ressa, whose book "How to stand up to a dictator" will be released in April 2022, has decided to stay in her country.
“I don’t think this is me, I think this is Rappler. I have – we have – all along said this since 2016, that that we are fighting for facts,” the journalist said upon hearing about the award.
If the news becomes debatable, she warns “then journalism becomes activism”, a “battle for facts”. For her, “the Nobel peace prize committee realised that a world without facts means a world without truth and trust.”
The Philippines is ranked the seventh most dangerous country in the world for journalists. As a sign of things to come, when he took office in 2016, President Duterte said that "Freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong.”
Last year, the Philippines’s strongman revived “red-tagging", a Philippine practice whereby anyone can be arbitrarily arrested by the police or even killed in extrajudicial execution (including those who work in the media).
In 2020, at least four Philippine journalists were killed this way. In addition, in the summer of that year, the Philippine Congress refused to renew the concession to the country’s largest television network, Abs-CBN, depriving millions of citizens of a vital public service during the pandemic.
In 2019, after more than 10 years, some politicians were convicted in what is considered the greatest massacre of journalists in history: the Ampatuan massacre.
In that incident, at least 32 journalists covering a politician planning to run for the post of provincial governor against a local clan were killed along with 25 other people.