As TIME honors Ressa, Palace insists freedom of expression ‘robust’ in PH
MANILA, Philippines – Freedom of expression in the Philippines remains robust, Malacañang said Wedesday, as TIME Magazine named Rappler CEO Maria Ressa as among its 2018 Person of the Year.
Ressa, together with slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette, and detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were cited for being “representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world — as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018 — who risk all to tell the story of our time.”
Ressa is facing tax evasion charges in the country. She has accused the government of persecuting her because of Rappler’s critical reporting of the Duterte administration.
Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the recognition given to Ressa was the judgment of TIME.
“Obviously since there are still critics attacking the administration, criticizing the administration, the freedom of expression in this country is a robust one. Nobody has been prosecuted for criticizing the administration,” he said.
“Those who have been charged are in connection not with their freedom of expression, but for commission of crimes, which the courts had found probable cause that is precisely they are now being tried,” he added.
Panelo further said: “With respect to the awardee Ressa, that is the call of the awarding organization, its basis of awarding certain people.”
“We cannot intrude into that,” he also said. /kga
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