MALACAÑANG yesterday insisted that freedom of expression in the Philippines remains robust, after TIME Magazine named Rappler chief Maria Ressa as one of its 2018 “Person of the Year.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it was TIME’s call to name Ressa as its Person of the Year.
“Certainly we cannot intrude into that. It’s not our turf. Whether we agree or not, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Asked about the state of freedom of expression in the country, Panelo said, “Obviously, since there are still critics attacking the administration, the freedom of expression is a robust one.”
“Nobody has been prosecuted for criticizing the administration. Those who have been charged are in connection not with freedom of expression but for commission of crimes,” he added.
Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler Inc’s license to operate for allegedly violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.
On Tuesday, Ressa posted a P204,000 bail at the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) for three cases of failure to file tax returns and one case of tax evasion filed by the Department of Justice.
Aside from Ressa, TIME also picked slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, jailed Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland, which lost 5 of its members in an attack last June. They were collectively called as the “Guardians” of the truth.