BUSINESS and sectoral groups, along with leaders in the Philippines and abroad, are celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize conferred on journalist Maria Ressa, whose celebrated run-ins with the Duterte administration have marked the country’s struggles with keeping democracy and human rights alive the past several years.
The Nobel organizers in Oslo on Friday announced the Nobel Peace Prize for Ressa, who shares the honor with Russian journalist Dymitri Muratov, whose media outlet has faced persecution – even deaths of some of its people — as it tangled with Vladmiri Putin’s government.
In a statement on Saturday, the Makati Business Club (MBC) said: “We congratulate Maria Ressa for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. While the award recognizes her courage, it also highlights the conditions that require such courage.
“Freedom of expression is under siege in the Philippines and the world from people with the power and resources to attack legitimate journalism, abuse the internet, and scare citizens into silence. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of information, facts and truth, are not only our individual rights, they are the bedrock of democracy and a society that provides peace, opportunity, and better lives for all people.”
The MBC extended “our gratitude, as well, to all journalists and citizens who fight for these rights.”
The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said in a statement: “Her award underscores the importance of protecting freedom of the press as our vanguard against the abuse of power, and an essential element of democracy.”
It was signed by MAP president Aurelio Montinola III and Riza Mantaring, co-chair of the MAP National Issues Committee.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) celebrated Ressa’s award as well.
“We hope this award will shine more light on those who put the spotlight on the truth at a time when basic freedoms and democracy are under attack,” the NUJP statement said.
“The prize is not only a recognition of their work but of the importance of freedom of the press and of expression in their countries and throughout the world,” NUJP added.
Ressa, CEO of online media outlet Rappler, is the first Filipino to receive the award and the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize this year.
Vice President Leni Robredo said on Twitter: “This is a recognition and affirmation of your tireless efforts to hold the line for truth and accountability. I applaud your courage. Mabuhay ka!”
Another congratulatory message came from Sen. Richard J. Gordon, Blue Ribbon chairman whose running, heated word war with President Duterte for his dogged pursuit of the pandemic fund misuse involving Pharmally Corp. has hogged headlines for weeks. “We are with you in standing up for press freedom against tyrants and evildoers,” Gordon said in a tweet addressing Ressa.
Former US Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton was among the foreign leaders who joined the collective toast to Ressa and the work of journalists.
Ressa, a Filipino-American, was earlier convicted in a cyber libel case filed by a businessman and sentenced to up to 6 years in jail. Her appeal is pending.
The Duterte government has said it had nothing to do with any of the cases faced by Ressa and Rappler, including one filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for Rappler’s alleged regulatory lapses.