The Asian American Journalists Association joins the AAJA-Asia chapter in condemning a Manila court decision to convict Rappler co-founder and executive editor, Maria Ressa, and Reynaldo Santos, former senior writer at Rappler, of cyber libel charges on June 15, 2020. Maria Ressa and Rappler, the news website she co-founded, have been the target of numerous investigations and cases by the Philippine government, due to their unwavering coverage of government actions.
Attacks on press freedom in the Philippines, in the United States, and anywhere else in the world is unacceptable. AAJA stands firmly by Maria Ressa and fellow journalists in the Philippines, and the ability of every journalist and newsroom to deliver independent news to its citizenry.
– AAJA Board of Directors
Full Statement from AAJA-Asia:
AAJA-Asia’s Statement Condemning Conviction of Rappler’s Maria Ressa Over Cyber Libel Charges
15 June, 2020
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Asia Chapter (AAJA-Asia) condemns the conviction of Maria Ressa, Rappler’s CEO and Executive Editor, and Reynaldo Santos, former Rappler researcher-writer, over ‘cyber libel’ charges by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Monday, 15 June 2020.
The court sentenced Ressa and Santos to a minimum 6 months and one day to a maximum of 6 years in jail over charges filed by Wilfredo Keng, a Filipino businessman, about an article published by Rappler in 2012 — four months before the new cyber libel laws came into effect in the Philippines.
Following the shut down last month of the popular news broadcaster ABS-CBN, this decision is regarded by concerned international observers, including AAJA-Asia, as the latest in a series of moves by President Duterte’s administration to intimidate and silence news media in the Philippines.
Rappler, one of the country’s most influential news websites, has been unflagging in its reporting of the extrajudicial killings and abuses that have accompanied Mr. Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. Ms. Ressa has faced in recent months no less than 11 government investigations and court cases attempting to force Rappler to stop its reporting.
AAJA-Asia unequivocally stands in full support of Ms. Ressa, Mr. Santos and all Filipino media and journalists in this new attack against press freedom that critically undermines the right for every citizen in the Philippines to access free, independent news. We join with organizations around the world to call for an end to the prosecution of journalists who are simply doing the brave job of reporting inconvenient truths in the Philippines.
The AAJA-Asia Board of Directors