Maria Ressa is making headlines in the Philipines over having been found guilty of “cyber-libel” and she could face up to six years of prison. She could be in prison for 6 years (). What has stoked Duterte? These are the facts that are important.
In the 1970s, after Martial Law was established by Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s, she fled to the United States where she got her education. She learned at Princeton University and she later returned to the Philippines to “find roots” as this article suggests. She came back to the Philippines around the time the 1986 People Power Revolution occurred at the same time, “I realized ‘oh my God, somebody could pay me to write a story'”.
She’s been the bureau chief for CNN in the Philippines and Indonesia, and headed the news division TV channel ABS-CBN for Philippines as well. Her recent endeavor, Rappler, was called that as a throwback to rap, so as to make ripples. Observers have remarked that she’s been essential to Rappler’s success, as well, due to her international connections. Due to her Government criticism, especially with that on the War on Drugs, human rights, and corruption, has gotten the attention of Duterte.
“If you are trying to throw garbage at us, then the least that we can do is explain – how about you? Are you also clean?”
Last year, the President revoked the websites operating license and they banned their reporters from covering his official activities. It’s seen as a political bludgeon by her supporters. But, it should be noted, that BBC says that while she’s perceived very popularly on social-media, Duterte’s high popularity has other people viewing her in the lenses of an elite. She’s out-of-touch to the rest of the Philippines other than those who like her.
The charges against her were that she repeated an article in 2012 , and updated the page, and that the judge ruled that updating the page was republication despite the cease-and-desist order. The Committee to Protect Journalists rejected the move, saying, “it deprived the public of crucial news and information when they needed it most”. The group is also saying that a recent law, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, needs to be modified so that journalists won’t be targeted. Section 9 of this law makes incitement of terrorism illegal and lists a wide variety of categories, such as speeches and proclamations, writings, that if could be construed as pro-terrorism, could be problematic under the law.
Duterte has made off-the-cuff comments that have drawn much criticism from those who dislike him in the Philippines, whom, acts tough, as the author of this BBC piece suggests. He’s said he would be “happy to slaughter them” when it came to drug addicts. He’s been cracking down on addicts and users. He’s threatened to end his partnership with the UN, joke about rape and sexual abuse, and, called US Obama and the Pope a “Son of a —–” (had to censor because it would be too vulgar), and, that God was “stupid”, and another item which is too obscene to really repeat in print.
His authoritarian tendencies tend to frighten opponents. It should be mentioned that he sees himself as a reformer, he wants to change the Philippines to a more parliamentarian system from a more centralized system which is where it is right now. His huge victory in 2019 gave him a majority in their upper house, enough to the point where he can push those reforms. He can also use his power to push for more controversial policies– which might be why the Philippines are where they are with the Rappler news site. When it comes to comparisons with Trump, he would like people to think there is no comparison.
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