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The Philippines orders the closure of the environment of the Nobel Peace Prize, Maria Ressa

The Philippines orders the closure of the environment of the Nobel Peace Prize, Maria Ressa

First modification:

The Philippine authorities ordered this Wednesday the closure of Rappler, the digital media co-founded by the Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2021. The website, however, was still working on Wednesday, hours after receiving the order, in the last day of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency.

Maria Ressa has been one of the main critics of the government of Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly war on drugs, launched after he came to power in 2016. These criticisms have earned her and her outlet Rappler a long list of complaints, investigations and attacks.

The closing order was issued by the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission. In a statement, this body confirmed on Wednesday the “revocation of the certificates of incorporation” of Rappler for violating “constitutional and regulatory restrictions on foreign ownership in the media.”

According to the Constitution, investments in the media are reserved for Filipinos or entities controlled by Filipinos. The indictment is based on a 2015 investment in Rappler by an American company, Omidyar Network, created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar Network then transferred its investment to local web operators to prevent Duterte from trying to shut it down.

Rappler indicated that this decision “effectively confirms the closure” of the company, but showed its intention to appeal it, arguing that the procedure has been “very irregular.” In addition, Ressa assured that the portal will remain operational while his legal battle continues. “We continue working, as always,” the journalist told the press. “We can only think that everything will be better” with Duterte’s successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, she added. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the former Philippine dictator, will take over as head of the country on Thursday.

Activists fear, however, a deterioration in the situation of human rights and freedom of expression under his presidency. The president-elect has given few clues about his views on the web and, more generally, on the question of freedom of expression. The truth is that on many occasions he has avoided giving interviews to the media and holding press conferences, and has communicated mainly through his spokesperson and his social networks.

A shared Nobel Peace Prize

Maria Ressa received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The Nobel Committee awarded them for “her efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.”

In March, more than a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Novaya Gazeta suspended operations in Russia after it passed laws imposing jail terms on critics of the Kremlin’s military campaign.

In April, Muratov was attacked on a train by a person who threw a mixture of paint and acetone at him, injuring his eyes. Since 2000, six Novaya Gazeta journalists and contributors have been killed in connection with his work, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya. Muratov dedicated his Nobel to his memory. “This newspaper is dangerous for people’s lives,” Muratov told AFP last year. “We’re not going anywhere.”

The Russian journalist auctioned off his Nobel Peace medal for $103.5 million last week. Proceeds from the sale of the medal, which was purchased by telephone by an unidentified bidder, will be remitted to UNICEF’s humanitarian aid agency for displaced Ukrainian children, according to Heritage Auctions, which held the auction.

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Written by Editor TLN

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