The Stream

Can independent media in the Philippines survive?

On Wednesday, July 20 at 19:30 GMT:
Press freedom continues to be under attack in the Philippines, human rights and media advocacy groups say. In June, Philippine authorities issued a shutdown order for Rappler, the award-winning news site run by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.

Known for its investigative reporting on corruption and former president Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”, Rappler has been accused of violating rules against foreign ownership of mass media. Ressa has vowed to keep the newsroom running.

Rappler’s shutdown order is the latest challenge in a long list of legal issues faced by the media company. This month, the Philippine Court of Appeals upheld a 2020 cyber libel conviction for a Rappler story published in 2012. Ressa and Rappler are facing multiple libel suits where, if convicted on all counts, Ressa faces cumulative jail sentences of up to 100 years, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Rappler is one of several journalism outlets in the Philippines that have faced pressure from the authorities. In June, a government order citing the spread of misinformation and connections to “terrorist organisations” blocked online access to two domestic news websites known for covering issues of marginalised communities. And in 2020, congress backed the closure of dozens of radio stations and TV channels when they refused to renew the license for the country’s biggest broadcaster ABS-CBN.

Press freedom advocates fear their renewed calls to protect Filipino journalists will fall on deaf ears as the country’s newly inaugurated president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., also has a fraught relationship with the press.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll speak to Maria Ressa about the future of press freedom in the Philippines.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Maria Ressa, @mariaressa
CEO and executive editor, Rappler