Arts & Entertainment

Maria Ressa says Rappler team will ‘hold the line’ after shutdown order

(Update 1: Adds quotes from Ressa and lawyer from press conference, more details, minor edits)

Manila, Jun 29 (EFE).- Philippines journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa said Wednesday that she and her team will continue to “hold the line” and defend their rights after authorities ordered the shutdown of her news organization, Rappler.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday morning said in a statement that a decision to revoke Rappler’s certificates of incorporation was upheld following appeal as it violated restrictions imposed on foreign ownership of mass media, as several judicial decisions since 2018 have maintained.

In a press conference, Ressa maintained that the team will continue to “hold the line” and stand by the rule of law in what she considers to be “harassment” and “intimidation.”

“We are not going to voluntarily give up our rights (…) because when you give up your rights you’re never going to get them back,” she said, urging journalists around the world to do the same.

“These are political tactics – we refuse to succumb to them.”

The digital outlet’s lawyer Francis Lim said that they “strongly disagree with the decision” and will fight the ruling in the court of appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court if need be

“We do hope that due to the significance of this case and its implications, especially in press freedom, the Supreme Court will finally settle that very important issue,” he said.

He was confident that “at the end of the day, justice will be done.”

A day before Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is sworn in as president of the Philippines on Thursday, Ressa said that the new administration “has the ability to show that it will strengthen rule of law.”

Rappler was key in uncovering troll farms that fueled a disinformation and fake-news campaign that benefited Marcos ahead of his sweeping victory the May election.

The SEC’s shutdown order was made in the final two days of the six-year term of President Rodrigo Duterte. The news outlet is one of the few in the Philippines that has been critical of the leader.

Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner along with Russian journalist Dimitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, co-founded the website in 2012.

The independent organization has extensively published investigations and articles on Duterte’s war on drugs, human rights and corruption, among other things.

Ressa “has distinguished herself as a fearless defender of freedom of expression and has exposed the abuse of power, use of violence and increasing authoritarianism of the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte,” the Nobel committee said.

In addition to the campaign against Rappler, Ressa also has several criminal cases pending in court, in addition to an appeal of a sentence of six years and six months in prison for cyber libel.

Media organizations, and rights, civil and political opposition groups have slammed the cases against Ressa as judicial harassment and retaliation. EFE


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