Press Release
February 14, 2019

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the arrest of Rappler Chief Maria Ressa

Yesterday was a sad, dark day for Philippine press freedom.

By sending award-winning Rappler CEO and TIME Person of the Year Maria Ressa to jail, President Rodrigo Duterte once more twists the law in an attempt to silence voices of truth and dissent. It is the latest display of Duterte's authoritarian tendencies, and much like other would-be dictators, his distaste for the free and principled press.

This event also highlights Duterte's predilection for selective justice, given how Ressa's arrest stands in stark contrast to the administration's unwillingness to implement the arrest warrant against Imelda Marcos, the wife of Duterte's "idol," and its "inability" to bring to justice Duterte's friend and accused druglord Peter Lim.

There is no question that Ressa's arrest is meant to intimidate members of the media - especially those engaged in reportage critical of the administration - into submission. However, if the president believes that he will succeed in putting a stop to truthful and hard-hitting coverage of his policies and actions, then he is gravely mistaken.

I, along with many others, stand with Maria Ressa and Rappler in their fight against the administration's latest assault on the freedom of the press and its other efforts to erode our democratic institutions.

We must speak out and decry this outrageous act of oppression and authoritarianism. We must hold the line and help protect the cause of the free press and its role of speaking truth to power, making our leaders accountable and safeguarding our democracy.

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