Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to President Marcos: Ensure Justice for Maria Ressa
President Ferdinand H. Marcos
President of the Philippines
On June 30, 2022, you were elected to the Presidency of the Philippines on the promise to unite and heal the nation. We support this goal and your efforts to bring the Philippines into a new day of peace and prosperity.
It is our hope that your plans will include strengthening one of the bedrocks of global democracy, a free and independent press. The free media, increasingly under threat by autocrats and would-be autocrats, is rightfully fiercely protected by democracies across the globe.
Maria Ressa, our fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is the international face of the free press in the Philippines. She is a highly credible journalist with international experience and stellar credentials. When she co-founded Rappler, her online news site in the Philippines, she was already recognized internationally for years of bringing the world stories from Southeast Asia on CNN. She is an asset to the nation, and an inspiration to her fellow journalists and democracy builders around the world.
But at home, Ressa has been subjected to a vicious and widespread campaign of hate and even threats on her life on social media, particularly on Facebook. Such campaigns have become far too common on social media, and have become dangerous tools to provoke violence and weaken democracy.
Ressa has simultaneously been subjected to a rash of arrests, indictments, and prison sentences that we can only classify as political persecution. She is currently threatened with potential sentences that in total would exceed 100 years. The charges filed against her and Rappler include criminal charges being brought under the Philippines’ cyber-libel law, passed in 2012, which criminalizes cyber-libel, opening the door to unchecked harassment and imprisonment by government officials of journalists, columnists, and virtually any online critics of the Philippine government.
Maria and Rappler have been accused and harassed for having received support from the international community. They have received this support because in the eyes of many around the world Maria is the bright face of democracy in the Philippines.
We hope to see the Philippines leave the mistakes of its past behind. We ask you to assist in bringing about a rapid resolution to the unjust charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler. If needed, this could be accompanied by negotiations to clarify the current status of investment in Rappler and to resolve any outstanding questions or errors, while allowing the world to continue to benefit from the vibrant, energetic voices of Rappler and Maria Ressa. The welcome result would be a strengthening of the rule of law and a rebirth of respect for the fundamental pillars of democracy in the Philippines.
Thank you very much.