Maria Ressa is one of the most prominent journalists in the Philippines with decades of experience in print and TV reporting. She is also executive editor of Rappler, an online news site.
In June she was convicted in a criminal court of the recently created offence of ‘cyberlibel’ over an article published in 2012 – before the law had come into effect. The article had subsequently been updated to correct a spelling error, allowing prosecutors to argue it had been republished.
It was the latest of many incidents that human rights groups have pointed to as evidence of an attack on the free press in the Philippines under its populist president Rodrigo Duterte.
Journalist Carmela Fonbuena has worked for Rappler under Maria Ressa and describes an inspirational figure who has supported countless young reporters like herself. She tells Rachel Humphreys that, despite the ruling which is now being appealed by Ressa, Rappler will continue fearlessly reporting on the government’s activities and its deadly ‘war on drugs’.
Ressa has vowed to continue fighting. She says: ‘Freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right you have as a Filipino citizen. If we can’t hold power to account, we can’t do anything.’
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