Wallace House stands with journalism organizations around the world in condemning the conviction of journalist Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Rappler, an independent news organization in the Philippines. Ressa, an award-winning international journalist and U.S. citizen, was found guilty today of “cyber libel” under the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act. Ressa and a former Rappler reporter, Reynoldo Santos Jr., could face up to six years in prison.
“This conviction represents a threat to global press freedom and ultimately to democracy,” said Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson. “This injustice in the Philippines, once one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies, is part of a dangerous pattern worldwide to intimidate and silence the press. Organizations that support journalists must make our voices heard in condemning this outcome.”
The case against Ressa stems from a 2012 Rappler story alleging a businessman’s ties to illegal drugs and human trafficking. A former CNN journalist and Time Person of the Year, Ressa has been repeatedly targeted by the Philippine government for Rappler’s critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and other punitive policies. Under Duterte’s rule, the Philippines has become increasingly dangerous for journalists. The Philippines ranks 136th out of 180 countries on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The United States, which has dropped dramatically in recent years, ranks 45.