Maria Ressa has distinguished herself for investigating Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs and her work against fake news and misinformation. The journalist was one of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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The Norwegian Nobel Committee has given the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. Both journalists were recognized for their fight in favor of freedom of expression. Unfortunately, in their countries, it's usually the constant attacks against the media that intimidate journalists.
Maria Ressa has dual citizenship as a Filipino and American and studied at the prestigious Princeton University. She is 58 years old and was named the 2021 laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
Ressa has been a journalist for 35 years and has written two books: "From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism" and "Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia."
From 1987 to 2005, the journalist worked as CNN's lead investigative reporter in Asia, focusing on terrorism, and was the head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs in Jakarta, Indonesia. Later, she became Senior Vice-President at ABS-CBN Broadcasting, the Philippines' largest television network, from 2005 to 2011. From 2012 to today, Ressa has been CEO & Executive Editor at Rappler, a social news network where stories trigger thoughtful conversations and community engagement for social change.
The veteran journalist has become a symbol of freedom of expression at a time when authoritarian leaders proliferate.
On the Rappler portal, she published multimedia and social research that reported nonconformists on the Philippines and with a critical view on President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ressa and her media faced multiple legal proceedings after publishing critical information about the president and his bloody fight against drug trafficking. For this reason, the renowned journalist was found guilty of defamation and sentenced to jail time last year, in a decision considered a severe attack to press freedom around the world.
In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Ressa stated, "We must make sure that we keep democracy alive, that we shore up our failing institutions because, in the end, we do get the democracy we deserve."
Rodrigo Duterte's 'War on Drugs'
According to Philippine government figures, 6.200 people have been killed in President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called war on drugs, which began shortly after he took power in 2016. Nevertheless, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors say as many as 30.000 people may have been killed in the campaign.
As stated by The Asean Post, "The majority of victims were young men suspected of small-scale drug dealing or minor crimes."
According to TRT World, judges say there's a reasonable basis for exploring whether extrajudicial killings during the crackdown amount to crimes against humanity.
The court authorized a formal investigation, but Duterte pulled his country out of the ICC in response to a preliminary inquiry in 2019. However, the ICC argues it has jurisdiction over crimes committed while the Philippines was still a member.
At the moment, great efforts made by journalists like Maria Ressa are crucial to keeping fighting for democracy and human rights in the country since Duterte won't let ICC investigators into the country. Ressa's work became a valuable source of information and justice that could help her country to get out of this brutality.