Press Release
October 13, 2021

De Lima files Senate Resolution congratulating Ressa for Nobel Peace Prize

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima filed a Senate Resolution (SR) congratulating Rappler founder, Maria Ressa, for being the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize owing to her extraordinary courage and unwavering efforts in fighting for truth, democracy, freedom of expression and of the press.

In filing SR No. 930, De Lima said congratulating and honoring Ressa would signify to the Filipino people that the Senate remains true to its principles as a bastion of democracy, freedom, truth, justice and independence.

"Maria Ressa's historic feat is definitive proof that press freedom is still universally recognized as a critical component in any functional democracy, and a monumental slap in the face of oppressive and tyrannical regimes, both past and present," she said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that Ressa is one of two media workers who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their work to protect freedom of the press and freedom of expression last Oct. 8. She is the first Filipino to win such an award.

In its announcement, the Committee said that it has decided to award the prize for 2021 to Ressa and Muratov "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."

Notably, the Committee highlighted the fact that Ressa "uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines."

Ressa and Rappler have been the target of attacks for her media organization's critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration and a key leader in the global fight against disinformation.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said Ressa's win is as remarkable as it is symbolic, especially under severe oppressive circumstances surrounding those who speak truth to power.

"At a crucial time for journalists in the Philippines, Ressa's victory sends a message loud and clear: the world is watching and democracy overcomes even the strongest forces to subdue it," she said.

De Lima likewise said in a separate statement posted on Twitter that Ressa's latest accolade "is truly a triumph of truth over lies, and the award has not come at a more opportune time than during our struggle to regain our lost freedoms under Duterte."

She added: "On a personal note, I could not be prouder of Ressa as a fellow defender of truth. I have not forgotten that she was among the first to bravely bring light to my political persecution and vilification, through the weaponization of fake news and state-sponsored trolling."

It can be recalled that in June 2020, Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. were convicted of cyber libel - a judgment Rappler regards as a failure of justice and democracy.

Ressa and Santos are out on bail, and have filed their appeal with the Court of Appeals. This is one of at least seven active cases pending in court against Rappler as of 10 August 2021.

De Lima, along with fellow Minority Senators Franklin M. Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan also filed Proposed SR No. 927 urging the rest of the chamber to confer upon Ressa the Senate Medal of Excellence for being a Nobel Laureate.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque congratulated Ressa on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, but denied the attacks on Philippine media that had been the premise of her fight for press freedom.

"Isang malaking sampal sa mukha ni Duterte na kilalanin ng mundo ang kabayanihan ng mga inapi niya... Her win means one thing: Tuloy ang Laban ng mga Pilipino para sa Katotohanan, Katarungan at Kalayaan," De Lima said.

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