MANILA MalacaAang described freedom of expression in the Philippines as robust after Time magazine named Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa as among the guardians featured in its 2018 Person of the Year cover story.
Ressa is among Time's guardians --four reporters and one newspaperincluding slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, and Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have all fought or continue to fight for the war on truth.
Ressa, who is currently facing five tax evasion charges, earlier posted bail for her temporary liberty before the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
In a Palace briefing, Panelo said it was the call of Time to select the personalities it finds to be most deserving as Person of the Year.
With respect to the awardee Ressa, that's the call of the awarding organization. It has its basis of awarding certain people. Certainly, we cannot intrude into that. It's not our turf, Panelo said.
Whether we agree or not, it doesn't matter, that's the award of a particular organization, he added.
Panelo pointed out the fact that media organizations like Rappler continued to write stories that put the Duterte administration in a bad light and it meant that Ressa was not being prosecuted.
Since there are still critics attacking the administration, criticizing the administration, the freedom of expression in this country is robust one. Nobody has been prosecuted for criticizing the administration, he said.
Earlier, Panelo noted that being a journalist cannot shield Ressa from criminal prosecution when she is facing tax evasion charges.
Those who have been charged are in connection not with their freedom of expression, but for commission of crimes, which the court had found probable cause that is precisely they are now being tried, he added. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency