Government officials, organizations congratulate Ressa for Nobel Peace Prize win

Vice President Leni Robredo and different organizations, both local and international, congratulated Rappler’s chief executive officer and president Maria Ressa for winning the much-coveted Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, Oct. 8.

Ressa, a journalist in Asia for 35 years, won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Russian journalist and Novaja Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its statement.

“They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,” it added.

The Rappler CEO is the first Filipino to win the Nobel as an individual.

Robredo addressed Ressa in a tweet, applauding her courage and noting that the award was “a recognition and affirmation of [her] tireless efforts to hold the line for truth and accountability.”

Malacañang, on the other hand, had yet to issue a similar statement as of press time.

From abroad, the Hamburg Foundation for the Politically Persecuted and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also greeted both Nobel winners.

In a phone call, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso told Ressa that she “made us proud as Filipinos.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines issued a statement expressing hope that “this award will shine more light on those who put the spotlight on the truth at a time when basic freedoms and democracy are under attack.”

Olav Njølstad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, personally called Ressa to notify her of the award. In the recorded telephone call that went around social media Friday night, Ressa received the news with a stunned, “I’m speechless, thank you so very much.”

In a live broadcast by Rappler, the veteran journalist said her win showed that “nothing is possible without facts… a world without facts means a world without truth and trust”.

The online site said in a statement that it was “honoured and astounded” by the win, pointing out that the award “could not have come at a better time – a time when journalists and the truth are being attacked and undermined.”

Ressa faces several lawsuits for articles. Rappler had published and documented alleged violations of the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of media. The beleaguered CEO has also been the target of the Duterte Administration for Rappler’s coverage of the bloody war on drugs.

Ressa co-founded the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an independent group composed of civil rights experts, scholars, and journalists which holds the social media platform accountable for its content and pushes for meaningful change on the site.

In its statement, the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized Ressa and Rappler’s documentation of how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse. It also acknowledged the efforts of Muratov and his publication, Novaja Gazeta, to publish critical articles on corruption, troll factories, and electoral fraud in Russia while facing threats of harassment, violence, and murder.