Bayan Muna leaders on Friday, Oct. 8 congratulated Filipino journalist Maria Ressa for winningthe Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 for exemplary efforts “to safeguard freedom of expression” in the Philippines..
Ressa and fellow journalist Dmitry Muratov of Russia were jointly honored with the Nobel Peace Award that cited them for being “representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasing adverse conditions.”
Ressa won the much-coveted honor which evaded the late former President Corazon C. Aquino, who was a favorite to win it after inspiring Filipinos to topple the allegedly dictatorial Marcos regime through the bloodless People Power revolution in 1986.
Bayan Muna senatorial candidate Nery Colmenares said Ressa’s victory will serve as “an inspiration for other journalists to continue holding the line.”
“Her recognition is a victory for Philippine Press Freedom, especially in these trying times where the Duterte administration has bent the truth and force-feeds misinformation,” Colmenares said.
“This award means a lot, not just to Maria Ressa and Rappler. It also serves as the International Community’s way of condemning President Duterte, who has only been the Emperor Palpatine of Philippine Press Freedom and democracy,” he stated.
Ressa is the co-founder of the digital news company Rappler. The Nobel award came three years after she was named Time Magazine Person of the year in 2018 for fighting media harassment and intimidation blamed on the Duterte administration.
Just last August, a Manila court dismissed a libel case filed against her by a professor of a private school.
A Philippine court has dismissed a libel case against Maria Ressa, a lawyer said on Thursday, one of several lawsuits filed against the journalist who says she has been targeted because of her news site’s critical reports on President Rodrigo Duterte.
The plight of Ressa, who was named Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for fighting media intimidation, has raised international concern about the harassment of journalists in the Philippines, a country once seen as a standard bearer for press freedom in Asia.
On the other hand, House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also lauded Ressa’s winning a Nobel recognition.
“The Nobel Peace Prize recognition on Maria Ressa is well deserved, yet, also a propitious one, coming as it is when in the Philippines, as well as in other parts of the world, there is a need for a strong push back on assaults against freedom of expression by tyrannical forces,” said Zarate in a separate statement.
He added: “Time and again, humanity is rest assured that speaking truth to power is always a noble way to fight for a just peace! Salute to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
Meanwhile, Zarate and Colmenares welcomed the disclosure of by the International Criminal Court that it is ready to start an impartial investigation of the killings during President Duterte’s bloody campaign on drugs.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan assured fairness in the conduct of the probe.
“The Prosecutor has echoed the ICC Pre Trial Chambers position that the ICC maintains jurisdiction for crimes committed before the effectivity of the withdrawal of Pres. Duterte from the ICC,” said Zarate.
For his part, Colmenares said: “Pres. Duterte’s lawyers and legal arguments have lost the last 3 rounds in the ICC-when the ICC conducted preliminary examination in 2018, recommended investigation in June 2021 and the Pre Trial Chambers order for investigation. Pres Dutertes claim that victims should have filed here instead of at the ICC has been destroyed when it is clear that Pres. Dutertes immunity from any criminal suit means no case will prosper here.
“The fatal admission of the PNP that it is only giving copies of incident report to the DOJ now, after 5 years of killings, is evidence that the government is unwilling to prosecute because no serious prosecution has taken place in the last 5 years,” the senatorial candidate said.