We remain firm in our position on Ms. Maria Ressa and her unfounded allegations against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration.
Human rights, freedom of speech, and media freedom, among others, are vital and essential foundations in a democracy, an ideal that a country like ours values very much. These democratic facets, especially the plurality of voices, remain vibrant and alive under the administration of President Duterte, where we welcome and encourage all Filipinos to exercise their inherent rights for us to improve and implement better social services and socio-economic policies for our collective growth and development.
Claims that there are attempts to silence critics, including some media, are wholly unfounded as we remain in continuation, since 2016, of breaking the global stigma placed on the Philippines as one of the deadliest and worst places for journalists and media workers in the world as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders.
The administration has undertaken initiatives and endeavors that promote media protection and rights, such as the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) and the Republic Act No. 114581 or the Expanded Sotto Law. Such attainment for a better status year by year on the list has been recognized by diplomatic delegations, including the European Union.
Our commitment towards upholding these facets is also reflected on the fact that 3 out of 5 Filipinos believe that they can speak “openly and without fear” on different issues as reported through the Social Weather Stations’ Survey last 2019. We have further maintained a satisfactory position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index at 54th rank in 2019.
However, certain individuals and groups have continued to taint our success by promulgating unfounded, unverified, and baseless allegations that have caused Filipinos, international organizations, and foreign governments to believe in these false impressions and information of the current state of the Philippines under President Duterte. Among such proponents are Ms. Maria Ressa and Rappler.
Despite her claims of “weaponization of the law” against her, Ms. Ressa continues to enjoy her inherent right to express her beliefs and thoughts, whether they be verified or not. Her continued allegations against the administration are being done deliberately to escape from her legal obligations.
Furthermore, it has always been an alibi of Ms. Ressa for her continued denial of the initiatives and high approval rating of the administration to revert back to her hackneyed claims and allegations of the administration’s behavior modification and manipulation through the government’s propaganda machines and communications, when in fact, the general public has successfully grasped the current situation following their inherent right to self-actualization.
The legitimacy of the criminal charges against Rappler and Ms. Ressa for their violations to the anti-dummy law, securities code, income tax law, and the cyber libel, for which she was convicted, are founded on the Philippines’ jurisprudence and constitution. To claim that these are being utilized to silence and intimidate them, and that of other violators, would be a total disregard to the rule of law and due process as prescribed by our constitution.
The freedom of expression and press freedom have never been and will never be curtailed by the Duterte administration. This as we continue to promote our shared democratic ideals with the international community. In fact, the Philippines continues to enjoy a plurality of voices, expression, opinions, and beliefs; hence, the continued operations of Rappler and Ms. Ressa’s pursuit for self-justification in response to their legal obligations.
The Duterte Administration remains and will continue to remain concerted and composed towards the promotion of the inherent rights, freedom, and security of media workers and in observance of the rule of law and due process as part of our collective, sincere, honest, and genuine commitment to serve the Filipino people.
This in spite of certain individuals and groups’ efforts of undermining our progress towards the realization of our collective progress and development.