Philippine journalist Maria Ressa petitioned the country’s Supreme Court on Thursday to lift the ban on her news organization, Rappler, imposed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. He barred the online news site in February 2018 from any event he attends. Rappler has been critical of his administration.
“This attack on Rappler opens up opportunities to attack other journalists,” Rappler’s executive editor and CEO told CBS News. “If the president doesn’t like you, they can revoke your access. So other journalists are joining the case.”In a press release announcing the intention to take the case to the Supreme Court, Rappler said Duterte’s ban violates the Philippine Constitution, which guarantees press freedom, free speech, due process and equal protection.
Ressa told CBS News the Supreme Court is the court of “final appeal” and, “We’re going go there because we’re saying the power has been abused and these moves go against the Constitution.””Will we win it? Does it matter? Because if you don’t file it, then you accept it,” Ressa said. “If you don’t say this is unconstitutional, and you don’t challenge it, you say it’s OK to lose these rights.” At first the ban only applied to Ressa, but it has been extended to all Rappler reporters and correspondents based in different provinces, Rappler said. Online attacks against Ressa and Rappler started in 2016, after Rappler published a series on social media propaganda. In 2017, Duterte claimed in a speech that Rappler was owned by the U.S. Months later, the company’s license was canceled. Ressa has been arrested twice in recent months. She was arrested in Feburary for alleged cyber libel for an article published in 2012, when the law was not even on the books. In March, she was arrested again, based on a claim that Rappler received investments from the U.S.-based Omidyar Network, a violation of a law preventing the ownership or management of domestic media organizations by foreign interests. Ressa told CBS News Duterte uses the same “playbook” as President Trump when calling her organization “fake news.””When President Trump called CNN and The New York Times ‘fake news,’ a week later, Duterte called Rappler ‘fake news,”‘ Ressa said. “It’s a playbook.”
Anna Gunther contributed reporting.
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