Written by 2:50 am Feature

Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize: Came at the Right Time and the Right Place

Have you ever been in a situation where everyone thinks you are not enough and that you are wrong in every way possible? But then, suddenly, you prove them wrong because it turns out you actually have what it takes to win the Nobel Peace Prize? Imagine how satisfying that would be.

Maria Ressa has definitely been there. Last year, she was convicted of cyber libel. Currently, she is facing multiple legal charges as a result of her work as a journalist. This includes delivering facts on internet platforms, creating awareness about fake news, and supporting press freedom.  Despite the accusations, danger, and threats leveled against her, these barriers do not hinder her from being a true writer.  She became the first Filipino individual Nobel laureate, an award given to those who stood up to “increasingly adverse conditions” against journalists. It would only be fitting for such a title to be recognized under her name.

The 58-year-old award-winning journalist, CEO, and co-founder of Rappler, an online news organization, has a long history of protecting press freedom in the Philippines. It serves as an encouragement for all Filipino journalists to not be afraid of defending their journalistic rights and independence. In this regard, journalists in the Philippines, which is considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media, celebrated Ressa’s triumph. According to the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, her triumph is a victory for all supporters of press freedom. “We hope that Ressa’s win drives international attention to the plight of the Philippines’ local media workers, and sends a signal that a free, unstifled, and critical press is necessary for a healthy democracy,” the organization said via Twitter.

The Philippines is a hostile environment for the press. When President Rodrigo Duterte entered office in 2016, the situation only worsened. Ressa previously stated that the emergence of false news has put democracies at risk. To further this, she has urged policymakers to crack down on misinformation distributors and, at the same time, prompted journalists to perform better reporting and prevent falsified information from spreading. “I just hope that, like the social media platforms, the government learns that the duty of journalists in a fully functioning democracy is actually to make the government better, to assist the government [to] make better decisions. The reason we ask questions isn’t to trip them up; it’s to assist them to find the best option,” Ressa explained in her CNN interview.

Indeed, the Nobel Prize arrived at an opportune time and in a critical position. Although Duterte supporters questioned Ressa’s authenticity and said that the Nobel Prize was being used by the West as a political instrument, the award-winning journalist did not back down. She hoped, instead, that the award would re-energize the struggle for democracy. Numerous backlash directed against Maria Ressa and her Nobel Prize recognition has already taken place, but she remains unfazed. Ressa continues to fight for not only her rights but for the rights of Filipino journalists to exercise press freedom. After all, a journalist’s goal is to present facts and information that will assist people to make better decisions for the common good and to reinforce people’s convictions to develop a nation where journalism is free.

Let this Nobel Prize inspire more journalists in the Philippines and around the world to unite in sheltering one another against the attacks and dangers towards the nobility of writers and their freedom of journalistic expression.

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