Presidential aspirant Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Tuesday said he has no qualms voting against granting a Senate Medal of Excellence to veteran journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.
Dela Rosa, a staunch ally of President Duterte, maintained he still believes Ressa does not deserve the Nobel Peace award as he reiterated that there is no suppression of press freedom in the Philippines.
“Bakit ipo-proclaim yung ginawa ni Maria Ressa (Why proclaim what Maria Ressa has done)? For what? Nanalo siya ng Nobel Peace Prize sa kanyang laban (She won the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting) for freedom of expression, for freedom of the press. Bakit? Meron bang (Why? Is there an) ongoing suppression of press freedom here in the Philippines?” Dela Rosa pointed out in an interview on ANC Headstart.
“Sabihan ko si (I would tell) Maria Ressa, give me one single media practitioner na ikinulong ng gobyernong ito dahil sa kaniyang (who was imprisoned by this government because of his) criticism against the government,” he pointed out.
Dela Rosa also pointed out that the denial of a broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation is not an indicator of suppression of press freedom, saying the network was unable to answer the issues that have been hurled against them especially with regards to its tax liabilities, labor violations, among others.
“Paano mo masabing may chilling effect? Bakit, sinara ba pati GMA7? Sinara ba pati TV5? Hindi naman…ABS-CBN lang naman ang hindi binigyan ng prangkisa ng (how can it be said there was a chilling effect? Was GMA7 closed? Did TV5 also close? They were not…only ABS-CBN was not given a franchise by) Congress because of some issues,” he reiterated.
While the President had a stand on the ABS-CBN franchise issue, Dela Rosa said it was utlimately Congress who decided on the fate of the giant network.
“The people who voted for the closure of ABS-CBN are voted by the people, they represent the people. So kagustuhan ng taongbayan yun (So it was also the will of the people),” he said.