Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has rejected notions that Maria Ressa’s recent Nobel Peace Prize win was a “slap to Malacañang’s face”.
“Certainly not. It is not a slap on the government,” Roque said in a virtual press briefing Monday, Oct. 11.
“It was made by private individuals in Norway, we respect their decision. But as I said, (the) criminal liability of Maria Ressa remains pending in our court and we leave it to our courts to decide on her fate,” the Palace mouthpiece added.
Ressa, chief executive officer (CEO) of Rappler, won the coveted award Friday, Oct. 8 along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. In fact Ressa was the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
There is no love lost between Ressa and Malacañang, as the latter”s media outlet has been consistent critics of the Duterte administration. This especially true on the war on drugs issue and the alleged stifling of press freedom in the Philippines.
Monday was the first time that a Palace official acknowledged Ressa’s historic accomplishment. In fact, United States (US) President Joe Biden beat Malacañang to congratulating Ressa.
“There is no slap there, because as everyone knows, no one has ever been censored in the Philippines [under the Duterte administration],” Roque insisted.
“You cannot blame Congress for not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN because that is one of their powers. That is not an order emanating from the executive nor (sic) is it a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive,” the Palace mouthpiece said, recalling the issue of the television and radio giant’s closure last year.
This notwithstanding, the Duterte administration took hits here and abroad over the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s operating franchise.
Ressa had earlier been convicted for cyberlibel in the Philippines.