Maria Ressa: Charges must be dropped

9 December 2021
As the journalist gets up to receive her Nobel Peace Prize, she will do so with numerous state-authorised charges against her.

On Friday 10 December, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov will both be in Oslo, Norway, to pick up their Nobel Peace Prize. The prize is a deserved and welcome recognition of the importance that independent, public interest journalism holds in underpinning democracy and peace. Both Ressa and Muratov work in environments hostile to truth-speaking media, where a truly independent public media is non-existent. In these climates, they represent the need and principles of public interest journalism to expose abuses of power, call out corruption, and counter dis- and misinformation.

But while Ressa’s work is being celebrated, it is important to remember the conditions she and several others within her news organisation, Rappler, are faced with. Currently, Ressa has seven charges against her, all brought ahead by the state. At the end of November, it was also announced that Rappler is one of seven news organisations being sued for libel by the country’s Energy Secretary, Alfonso Cusi.


The Public Media Alliance is part of the #HoldTheLine (#HTL)coalition – a group of eighty organisations around the world, committed to standing up for Ressa against the Philippines government. The Coalition is demanding the charges be dropped. Responding to the latest legal action brought against her by the Energy Secretary, the Coalition’s Steering Committee said in a statement: “This latest attack, spearheaded by a senior member of the Philippine government, spotlights the need to urgently decriminalise libel in the Philippines…It has become a political tool used for the legal harassment of journalists and news outlets by the [Rodrigo] Duterte administration. It chills freedom of expression, suppresses independent journalism, and assaults the public’s right to know. It also directly contravenes international law.”

The Public Media Alliance stands with the Coalition in calling for the charges to be dropped. The actions of the government are a form of intimidation, designed to muzzle public interest journalists and stop them from holding power to account. Moreover, the government needs to decriminalise libel so it can no longer be used as a way of threatening journalists from doing their truth-speaking job.