Rappler calls on journalists and media organisations around the world to help it defend its case against the conviction of its CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Rey Santos, Jr.
In a letter to its newsletter subscribers (Rappler boasts over 12 million unique visitors to its website per month), the media group said 'the verdict sets a dangerous precedent not only for journalists but for everyone online'.
"This is not just about Maria or Rey or Rappler. This is about fundamental rights of every citizen who refuses to be intimidated by the powerful who do wrong and whom they dare criticise and expose," it said.
The full statement can be found on their website here.
Answering the call for those in the media to speak out, The Australian Filipina sourced comments from FilPress Sydney, a collective of Filipino-Australian journalists covering local community news and current affairs.
This was the comment from Alfredo 'Ding' Roces, an award-winning artist, writer and newspaper columnist who migrated to Australia in the late 70s:
On 21 September 1972, I woke up to find that Martial Law was upon us. The paper I had been writing a daily column for 12 years, the Manila Times, was shut down forever. I ended up in Australia where I still reside these last 43 years. Today's persecution of Maria Ressa brings back my memories of Martial Law days. It signals to me that the check and balance between the executive, the legislative and judicial branches of a democracy have been demolished. Along with the persecution of the ABS-CBN, this unjust case against Maria Ressa is intended to bring about the death of Press Freedom in the Philippines.
From Charles Chan, radio presenter at Sydney station Radio Bayanihan.
My reaction to Maria Ressa's court ruling was one of disbelief, anger, sadness and irritation. As a radio presenter and newsreader at Radyo Bayanihan, I felt like my tongue has been chopped off or my vocal cord was taken out. I thought to myself.... whatever happened to free press? Dark clouds now hang around the freedom of expression in the Philippines because of this court ruling. I hope the judge or judges that handed out this decision will one day realised that they have made an epic mistake and that their decision was possibly based on fear and of one person's whim; also in effect making her guilty of a crime under a legislation passed after she had been charged and held in prison.
From Emma de Vera, community leader and former print publisher
This is selective persecution. Nothing we say matters. It's "them" against all of us! Similar to ABS CBN - the way Gabby Lopez was interrogated! Even asking him to recite Panatang Makabayan!
But one member of FilPress-Sydney offers a counterview. Dr. Mars Cavestany, editor of the Philippine Community Herald said:
As a fellow journo I still want to hear her comment on what many accuse her as "bad journalism" in view of what was established in court that Rappler never heard the side of the person who eventually sued her and won. If there was really no malice in their reporting, why did they ignore the numerous requests of the other party to publish his side of things? Isn't that a negation of balanced reporting -the most basic/fundamental rule of thumb in the 4th estate? I am also awaiting legal decision re. alleged Rappler "violation of the constitutional provision on foreign media ownership" notwithstanding endless inputs (if pretty convincing "such and such") from my knowledgeable media giants in Manila. Finally to me, in whatever language, when all is said and done, LAW is LAW, she can't be singing her old line that the Duterte government is using the law as a weapon to muzzle dissent. Where was she during the Marcos era. The gall to Say now, "you Filipinos protect/fight for your rights? Pasalamat siya she enjoys all the privileges on relying on her international backing. Bottom line, whatever we write, dapat kaya nating panindigan. Once we spread falsehood , we've sounded or death knell. (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)
You can share your thoughts on social media using the hashtags: #CourageOn #DefendPressFreedom #HoldTheLine.
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