MARIA RESSA WAS HEAD of the ANC (ABS-CBN’s English news channel) when we first met years ago before she joined CNN. She spoke on terrorism after writing two books about it at the Manila Peninsula. The second time was virtual as we acted as one of the panelists in a webinar she anchored on “The Power of Social Media” early this year.
The next thing we know it- for courageously fighting for the “freedom of expression” in the Philippines- she was named co-winner of the 2021 most globally prestigious award- the ” Nobel Peace Prize” alongside Russian journalist Dmitry Moratov of the “Novaya Gazeta” where 6 of his staff- journalists have been killed under the repressive regime of Vladimir Putin.
They were jointly cited for their fight for freedom of expression which is a precondition for democracy, the Nobel Prize said, and were chosen among 315 other heroes including those among the health heroes amid Covid-19 and proponents of “Black Lives Matter”
Seven of the ten cases filed by the government against Ressa’s online news platform Rappler (to include tax evasion and foreign ownership) are still active. This includes a “hold departure order” that prevented her to attend to an ailing mother (sick with cancer abroad) and from attending a one-month Fellowship at Harvard University this November.
Maria Ressa is to physically receive the award in Oslo, Norway this December 10 and it will be a global embarrassment for the government not to allow her departure. She is the only living Filipino who had the nerve to take it up (face to face) with FB founder-owner Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook anomalies featuring fake news and biased untrue propaganda. Facebook took down the accounts months after the confrontation.
Here are some of the paraphrased Gems of Thought of Maria Ressa in her interview with Karen Davila on ANC recently.
Special Role of Journalists.
Who needs to stand up to power- whether public or private? Journalists have that power that is a reflection of the power of the people. It is a special role especially in a country like the Philippines which has a “Bill of Rights” like that in the USA.
It is hard especially with this Battle for Facts where social media platforms try to push to the side mainstream journalism and propagate lies, hate and anger over facts.
On Good Governance
Government must realize that like the “check and balance” between the three branches of government, journalism provides the check and balance to ensure good governance, especially during this Covid period. They can point out some weaknesses so government men can change them as they are the actors. Journalism works WITH the government, It is not a “us against them” situation. The media does not just call out the facts but the context of the facts.
Right of the Public
Speak out. Silence is Complicity. This is our only democracy- we want it to be robust. When you do not speak out when you see something wrong happening in front of you, especially when you have the power to change it- this becomes your fault. The Philippines was once the shining symbol of democracy. Now we are on the same plane as Russia, Turkey (who jailed the most number of journalists), Hungary and Venezuela. We must reclaim our reputation as a democracy.”
Fate of Provincial Journalists
We journalists in Manila are luckier than our provincial journalists who are pressured by strong local forces. News organizations must band together and tell our local journalists that they are not in this alone. We are in this together. We become stronger if we collaborate.
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