Press Release
October 11, 2021

Drilon: Maria Ressa automatically qualifies for Senate Medal of Excellence

Maria Ressa, the first Filipino recipient of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, is automatically qualified to receive the Senate Medal of Excellence, the highest award given by the Senate, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.

"I congratulate Maria Ressa for winning the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. It is a recognition of her valuable contribution to safeguarding and upholding the freedom of the press, and to the fight for the truth amid this era of misinformation and fake news," Drilon said on Monday.

Ressa, the founder and chief executive officer of Rappler, won this year's Nobel Peace Prize along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.

Drilon said Ressa automatically qualifies for the Senate Medal of Excellence.

It was Drilon who introduced the specific provision in Senate Resolution No. 110 which states that the Philippine Senate Medal of Excellence shall be conferred upon Filipinos who are awarded the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, the A.M. Turing Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, or an Olympic medal.

Drilon also cited his debates with the author of Senate Resolution No. 110, Sen. Francis Tolentino, who made it clear on the floor that under the measure, Filipinos who receive any of the five major international awards are automatically qualified to receive the Senate Medal of Excellence.

The minority leader explained that being a recipient of the Nobel Prize, the grant of the Senate Medal of Excellence to Ressa is made automatic by virtue of his provision, hence the Senate will no longer deliberate on it and put the matter on the floor for vote.

Established last August, the Senate Medal of Excellence is given to Filipinos "for setting the highest standards of excellence, nationalism, and virtue that their fellow countrymen can aspire for."

"It is only fitting that the Senate bestows and confers the Senate Medal of Excellence to Maria Ressa for giving the country its first Nobel Prize since the award's establishment in 1895," Drilon said.

"Maria Ressa's victory will inspire today's journalists and the future generation of the press to be fearless in defending our freedom of expression and the freedom of the press and in holding those in power to account," Drilon added.

In the announcement of this year's winners, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism.

Drilon said he shared the committee's citation of Ressa and Rappler, founded by the award-winning journalist, for giving critical attention to the controversial anti-drug campaign that resulted in thousands of deaths.

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