Filipino community defends Philippine press freedom

DALY CITY, CA — Filipinos gathered at the Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center in Daly City to hear a statement from Rappler CEO and chief editor Maria Ressa regarding press freedom and democracy in the Philippines.

Recently, Ressa was arrested and detained by the police due to a cyber libel case filed by the Department of Justice that stemmed from an investigative report. She posted bail worth 100,000 pesos. Her camp has asked a Manila court to dismiss the case against them.

Vivian Araullo, who formerly worked with Ressa at ABS-CBN, read the remark.

“The Philippines is now the tip of the arrow in a global fight for democracy – from the weaponization of social media against perceived enemies like journalists to weaponizing the law against Sen. Leila de Lima, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Sen. Antonio Trillanes – and most recently, me.”

Ressa also alleged social media presents a different reality.

“Fear in our society is real — from the brutality of the drug war to the targets of selective justice. It permeates social media and our reality. Our institutions are crumbling.”

People gathered here say they fear for Ressa’s safety, but are also motivated by her courage to report the truth.

The Malaya Movement hosted the event and specifically held it on the same day as the commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution, which ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Organizers said that the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings committed under President Duterte’s drug war and now the silencing of press freedom are a page out of the Marcos playbook.

These activists said that it was the assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino that was the turning point in the revolution — and they hope this dark period in history will not have to repeat itself.

“Do we have to wait until something like that happens, another leader that will be killed? At least internationally people are paying attention to whatDuterte is doing and I think the more and more agitated he becomes and the more and more he cries wolf about these fake news sites people will be more encouraged to want to learn more.”

Members of Malaya Movement said they will continue to spread more awareness on what they are calling the failures of the Duterte regime.

They plan to travel to Washington DC in April to lobby elected leaders to stop US tax dollars from being sent to the Philippines in the form of military aid.

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