RAPPLER co-founder and veteran journalist Maria Ressa is among 2020’s Bloomberg 50, an annual list of influential leaders, icons, and innovators who helped define the year.
She is only the second Filipino to land on the list, following Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp., who was honored in last year’s line-up.
Ressa, a vocal critic of the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was convicted of cyber libel this past June for a 2012 Rappler article about a businessman, sentencing her to a penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months to six years.
“In June a judge ruled on the charge, which can be initiated when a party who believes he’s been defamed requests a prosecution. The ask had come from businessman Wilfredo Keng, who said Rappler defamed him when the online news site cited a report about his alleged links to drug smuggling in a story,” read Ressa’s profile on the Bloomberg website.
Ressa, for her part, said the verdict was “not unexpected,” and vowed to continue fighting.
“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,” she said in a press conference following the verdict.
Bloomberg lauded the Rappler CEO for her unflinching journalism, which included investigations of alleged police abuses in the president’s anti-drug efforts.
“She’s carried on despite what journalism advocates say is a campaign of official intimidation, including a tax evasion case and a claim by regulators that financial support Rappler received violated a ban on foreign ownership of media,” it said.
“Free on bail, she’s fighting all those allegations — and still publishing,” it added.
Ressa, who was among TIME’s 2018 “Persons of the Year,” was recently honored with the international 2020 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award by the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Aside from her, Bloomberg also honored Billie Eilish, singer-songwriter; Bong Joon-ho, director of Oscar-winning film “Parasite;” Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix; Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Tsai Ing-Wen, president of Taiwan. (AJPress)