Maria Ressa and the increasing attacks on the free press in the Philippines | Australia news

Maria Ressa is one of the most prominent journalists in the Philippines with decades of experience as a print and TV reporter. She is also the executive editor of Rappler, an online news site.

In June, Ressa was convicted in a criminal court of the recently created offence of “cyberlibel” over an article published in 2012 – before the law had come into existence. The article was subsequently updated to correct a spelling error, allowing prosecutors to argue it had been republished.

Human rights groups have pointed to the conviction as evidence of increasing attacks on the media in the Philippines under populist president Rodrigo Duterte.

Journalist Carmela Fonbuena has worked for Rappler under Ressa and describes her as an inspirational figure who has supported countless young reporters. She tells Rachel Humphreys that, despite the ruling which Ressa is appealing, Rappler will continue its fearless reporting on the government’s activities including its deadly “war on drugs”.

Ressa says: “Freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right you have as a Filipino citizen. If we can’t hold power to account, we can’t do anything.”

Maria Ressa, editor and CEO of Rappler, leaves a regional trial court after being convicted for cyberlibel on 15 June 2020 in Manila, the Philippines

Photograph: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

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