Roque says Ressa still has to face PHL courts as Palace congratulates her for Nobel win

Roque stresses press freedom “alive and well” in PHL, quotes National Artist F Sionil Jose

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during the Malacanang press briefing on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.


(Eagle News) – Malacanang congratulated Filipina journalist Maria Ressa for being the first Filipino to win a Nobel prize but insists press freedom is alive and well in the Philippines.

In a Malacanang press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also said that Ressa, CEO of the online site Rappler, would also have to face her criminal cases in the country.

Well, it’s a victory for a Filipina and we’re very happy for that kasi wala naman pong utak talangka dito sa Malacañang,” he said on Monday, Oct. 11.

“But of course, it is true that there are individuals who feel that Maria Ressa still has to clear her name before our courts as in fact she’s convicted felon for libel, cyber libel in the Philippines and she faces other cases in the Philippines ‘no – that’s for the courts to decide,” Roque said.

During the Palace briefing, Roque rejected claims of those saying that Ressa’s win was a slap in the face of government.

“It is not a slap on the government; it was made by private individuals in Norway. We respect their decision but as I said, criminal liability of Maria Ressa remains pending in our courts and we leave it to our courts to decide on her fate,” he said.

Roque also stressed there is no press censorship in the country. I

“There is no slap there because as everyone knows, no one has ever been censored in the Philippines. You cannot blame Congress for not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN because that is one of their powers. That is not an order emanating from the Executive nor is it a matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive.”

The Malacanang spokesperson also quoted heavily from an article by National Artist F. Sionil Jose on the situation of the press in the country.

“The Philippine press is alive and well not because of Maria Ressa. No writer is in jail. There is no censorship. Duterte hasn’t closed a single newspaper or radio station,” Roque said reading Jose’s article.

“The closure of ABS-CBN was made by Congress which did not renew the ABS-CBN franchise. Sure, he has influenced Congress but the real issue against ABS-CBN, as I have pointed out, is not press freedom but money, politics, power and its abuse by the Lopezes who own the TV network,” Jose was quoted as saying.

“Sure, journalists have been killed in the Duterte regime but just as it were in the past administrations; but those killings cannot be laid at Duterte’s door. Usually, they are made by minor politicians or officials attacked by journalists. The real test for journalists was made during the Marcos dictatorship when he imposed censorship, closed all media and jailed journalists,” he added.

(Eagle News Service)