I woke up to the following headlines this morning and almost feel out of bed:
The Guardian: Journalist Maria Ressa found guilty of ‘cyberlibel’ in Philippines
Aljazeera: Maria Ressa found guilty in blow to Philippines’ press freedom
BBC: Maria Ressa: Philippine journalist found guilty of cyber libel
The New York Times: Maria Ressa, Crusading Journalist, Convicted in Philippines Libel Case.
Not since the Marcos dictatorship have Philippine journalists been persecuted with such malice and viciousness. After the People Power Revolution of 1986, the restoration of freedom of the press in the Philippines and the release of various journalists from prison paved a new way for Philippines journalism, ushering in a new era of print, radio and digital media. I watched with fascination as the most respected of journalists staked their claim in the press, with candid and critical editorials that had been banned for decades. Investigative journalism in particular, experienced a new high, with a younger generation or journalists who had been educated abroad.
It is a travesty that all the blood, sweat and tears invested in the liberation from the Marcos dictatorship and the restoration of democracy has come to a bitter halt. The Philippines is now deemed one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and all because one man cannot take the criticism against his administration. Maria Ressa’s conviction comes closely at the heels of the shutting down of ABS-CBN, the Philippine’s largest broadcaster, clearly a violation of the freedom of speech and press guaranteed in the constitution.
What lies in store for the Philippine press when the president equates journalists with common criminals and drug dealers, and are to be shot on the spot? If he can’t take the heat, he shouldn’t be in the kitchen.