New York-based group support for Ressa ''alarming'': Panelo
Malacanang said the expression of sympathy of New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is "alarming".
In a statement Tuesday, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the statement of the CPJ about the working environment of journalists in the Philippines is '' a hasty generalization that has no basis in fact nor in law''.
“The expression of sympathy of New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists to the plight of Ms. Maria Ressa, noting that the alleged oppressive working environment for journalists in the Philippines is alarming by citing the cases filed against her and Rappler, is a hasty generalization that has no basis in fact nor in law,” he said.
Panelo added that Ressa or Rappler does not represent the entire media in the Philippines.
“There are local journalists who are similarly critical, even outrageously hostile and biased of the policies of the Administration, but they continue to enjoy the practice of their profession free from charges or suits by reason of their not violating any law outside of the practice of their profession,” he said.
“We reiterate that Ms. Ressa is a high-profile journalist who invokes freedom of speech and hides before the mantle of press freedom when she is criminally charged for a violation of law not related to her exercise of her right to free speech,” he added.
Panelo stressed that the Rappler CEO is facing criminal charges due to her commission of illegal acts, which include the offenses of tax evasion, breach of anti-dummy statute and violation of our cyber libel laws, which the investigating prosecutor and courts trying her found probable cause.
“She cannot escape liabilities for these just because of her profession or politics. Ours is a system of law and no one is above it nor exempt from it,” Panelo said.
He underscored that during the Duterte administration the country was delisted as one of the deadliest countries for media, as indicated in the 2018 annual report of Reporters Without Borders.”
“It is also during this Administration when a President issued his first administrative order designed to promote media security,” Panelo said.
He said Duterte also created a task force which made significant strides in providing a safe working environment for media workers in the country by, among others, investigating and acting on more than 30 cases of reported threats and harassment against journalists, as well as reinvestigating the most forgotten cases of media killings in the barangays.
“The President himself advocates for the free marketplace of ideas and will continue to do so while preserving our country's vibrant democracy,” he added. Ella Dionisio/DMS