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Nobel winner Maria Ressa: ‘I refuse to be stamped down’

A day earlier than receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Ressa — the CEO of reports website Rappler — spoke to CNN from her house within the Philippines.

Ressa mentioned the 2022 Philippines presidential elections, which will likely be held in May subsequent 12 months. Rodrigo Duterte is standing down after a single six-year time period in energy.

A former CNN bureau chief and TIME Person of the Year, Ressa has been engulfed in authorized battles lately and says she has been focused due to her information website’s vital stories on Duterte.

“I have covered this country since 1986, I’ve never been the news but the only reason I’ve become the news is because I refuse to be stamped down, I refuse to stop doing my job the way I should,” Ressa mentioned.

“I think rule of law is critical for any democracy because if you don’t have rule of law then it is a hop, skip and a jump to fascism, because then whoever is in power decides who lives and who dies, literally.”

Before co-founding Rappler, the Filipino-American journalist spent almost twenty years as a lead investigative reporter for CNN in Southeast Asia.

“I’m very lucky because of CNN. You know. I had enough of a network to be able to fight back … I’m not fighting against the Duterte administration, I’m fighting for my rights. I’m still idealistic,” she mentioned Thursday.

‘Endless stress’

Ressa shared this 12 months’s Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, who heads the unbiased Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Ressa is the primary girl to be awarded a Nobel Prize this 12 months.

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, mentioned as she introduced the prize in Oslo on Friday.

In a information launch, the Nobel Committee mentioned Ressa used “freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines.”
It added: “As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign.”

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Ressa highlighted the challenges she and Rappler have confronted masking information within the Philippines underneath Duterte’s regime.

“At CNN, I covered all the presidents since 1986 and I’ve never seen rule of law be so patronage-driven and selective,” she mentioned.

“Journalists have been targeted in ways that we’ve never gone through since the days of (Ferdinand) Marcos. In less than two years I’ve had 10 arrest warrants against me and I haven’t done anything different from what I’ve been doing (before).”

In August, a Philippine court docket dismissed a cyber-libel case in opposition to Ressa, one in all a number of lawsuits filed in opposition to her.

The #MaintainTheLine Coalition — a bunch of press freedom and rights advocates together with the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders — welcomed the dismissal of what it described as a “spurious charge” and referred to as “for all remaining charges to be immediately dropped and the endless pressure against Ressa and Rappler to be ceased.”

Ressa was convicted in June final 12 months in one other cyber-libel case, filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng, and faces six years in jail until the cost is overturned on enchantment.

Ressa: ‘A battle for fact’

With regard to the elections scheduled for subsequent 12 months, Ressa instructed CNN that reporting the info was very important if democracy was to perform correctly.

“How are we going to have integrity of elections if the platforms that deliver the news are biased against facts, that they actually spread lies laced with anger and hate? How are we going to have integrity of elections? This will be a battle for facts, it will be a battle for truth,” she mentioned.

“There’s lots at stake for the Philippines [in 2022] as a result of if we do not get reality based mostly, proof based mostly reasoning, a shared actuality, then we’re not going to return out of this. We’re going to splinter even additional.

“But I’m unsure that is not the state of the world … the weaknesses started when journalists misplaced our gatekeeping powers to know-how. They’re intertwined to me, the collapse of democracy begins with the breakdown of info. And if you do not have info you do not have the shared actuality to seek out the suitable path. This is a world downside.”

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