Journalist critical of Duterte’s drug war becomes first Filipino Nobel Peace Prize awardee

Nobel Peace Prize winner

Journalist Maria Ressa, CEO of news outlet Rappler, became the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize award on Friday. She shares the prestigious honor with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. 

Press freedom advocates: On Friday, the pair, who both angered their respective local rulers with their work, received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 in recognition of the significance of press freedom in modern times, reported CNN.

  • Norwegian Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said the pair were honored for their efforts in safeguarding “freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy, and lasting peace.”
  • Rappler, which Ressa heads, is a staunch critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte‘s administration, while Muratov heads the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. 
  • Ressa and Muratov both faced legal threats amid crackdowns on journalists’ rights in their countries. Both the Philippines and Russia are countries that have consistently ranked among the deadliest countries for journalists

Struggle for truth: Ressa, who was recognized as TIME’s “Person of the Year” in 2018, lamented that the Duterte government has targeted her due to her reports on Duterte’s drug war and other issues critical of the regime.

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  • She has been convicted of cyber libel and is currently restricted from leaving the country while she appeals her conviction. 
  • Ressa has seven other active court cases that stem from the government’s attempted shutdown of her news site because of its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), which are similar to a company’s shares.
  • The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) released a statement commending Ressa for her Nobel Peace Prize award, noting that it should highlight the global struggle for truth.
  • “We hope this award will shine more light on those who put the spotlight on the truth at a time when basic freedoms and democracy are under attack,” NUJP said. 
  • Under the Duterte administration, 20 journalists have reportedly been killed and four, including Ressa, have been detained.
  • Meanwhile, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has linked local government agents to over half of the total 223 cases of attacks and threats against local media since Duterte assumed office in 2016.

Featured Image via Nobel Prize

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