Journalist Maria Ressa wins Philippines’ first Nobel Prize

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ON OCTOBER 8, Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Ressa is the first Filipino laureate of the world’s most prestigious accolade.

The two were recognized “for their courageous fight for freedom of expression” in their respectively countries, Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen of the Norwegian Nobel Committee told a news conference. “At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,” she added. “Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.”

Ressa has been under continuous attack from the Duterte regime due to Rappler’s critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. Among the issues the digital media company has earned regime ire are its reporting on the extrajudicial killings, the “war on drugs,” and corruption. The Nobel laureate also faces a raft of cases like libel and cyberlibel, and has also been a victim of harassment and intimidation from the state. Rappler and Ressa are now facing at least seven active cases. 

While support from individuals and groups poured in when the news broke, the Palace remained quiet for a while and faintly congratulated Ressa on Monday, October 11. It also denied the attacks on Philippine media that had been the premise of Ressa and other journalists to defend press freedom.

Rappler said in a statement that the Nobel Committee’s recognition of Ressa’s fight for free expression “could not have come at a better time – a time when journalists and the truth are being attacked and undermined. We thank the Nobel for recognizing all journalists both in the Philippines and in the world who continue to shine the light even in the darkest and toughest hours.”