Washington (October 8, 2021) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, released the following statement congratulating journalist Maria Ressa for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for her work defending freedom of expression. Ressa, the founder of the news platform Rappler, was targeted by the Duterte government of the Philippines for reporting on extrajudicial killings and other egregious human rights violations during the government’s anti-narcotics operations. Ressa was convicted last year without merit of cyber-libel and faces the possibility of serving up to six years in prison for her reporting. Ressa shares the prize with Dmitry Muratov, who co-founded the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
“I want to congratulate my friend Maria Ressa for the well-deserved honor of becoming Nobel Laureate for safeguarding the freedoms of expression and the press that are cornerstones of democracy,” said Senator Markey. “This is a triumph for Ms. Ressa, her colleagues at Rappler, and all the journalists in the Philippines who have shown unflinching courage to expose the violent truth of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Ms. Ressa’s good spirit and soft-spoken fight have prevailed even as President Duterte and his supporters have tried to discredit her and subject her to the authoritarian playbook of intimidation and scurrilous charges. Ms. Ressa has risked her own freedom knowing that democratic principles – a free press and the rule of the law – are universal and bedrock. As the world watches and celebrates Ms. Ressa’s accomplishments, President Duterte should drop all politically-motivated charges against her, Senator Leila de Lima, and all other human rights defenders and journalists in the Philippines.”
In June 2020, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)released a joint statement following the conviction in the Philippines of Ms. Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr., former researcher-writer, who were found guilty of “cyber libel” and may be imprisoned for up to six years. The Senators called on the government to drop all politically motivated charges against Maria Ressa, Rappler, and journalists in the Philippines.
In 2019, Senator Markey led his colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Senate Resolution 142, later adopted by the Senate, condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of outspoken government critic Senator Leila De Lima and calling on the U.S. government to back human rights defenders and investigative journalists like Maria Ressa.