‘Press freedom is alive’: Palace agrees with Jose on Ressa

Published October 11, 2021, 2:46 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang is one with National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose in saying that press freedom of the Philippines under the Duterte administration is alive and that Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize win is not a slap on the Palace’s face.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose (MANILA BULLETIN/FILE PHOTOS)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

In his press briefing on Monday, October 11, Roque said Ressa’s win was not a slap on Malacañang’s face.

“Certainly not. It is not a slap on the government,” he said.

“There is no slap there because as everyone knows, no one has ever been censored in the Philippines,” he added.

President Duterte is being criticized for attacking news organizations critical of his administration. He had been attacking broadcast giant ABS-CBN and even banned Rappler from covering presidential events.

To address these criticisms, Roque said the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise was not a directive from the Executive Branch.

“You cannot blame Congress for not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN because that is one of their powers,” he said.

“That is not an order emanating from the Executive, nor is it a matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive,” he added.

He cited and agreed with Jose’s lengthy Facebook post on Ressa’s win which said that press freedom is alive in the Philippines.

“Let’s say Malacañang agrees with our National Artist,” Roque said.

In his post, Jose said Ressa did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize and that “the Philippine press is alive and well” not because of her.

“I have criticized Duterte but not on press freedom. The Philippine press is alive and well not because of Maria Ressa. No writer is in jail. There is no censorship. Duterte hasn’t closed a single newspaper or radio station,” the National Artist wrote on Facebook.

“The real test for journalists was made during the Marcos dictatorship when he imposed censorship, closed all media, and jailed journalists,” he added.

Ressa is the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize.