Maria Ressa becomes first Filipino to win Nobel Peace Prize

Maria Ressa | Photo from Twitter/@mariaressa

RAPPLER co-founder and veteran journalist Maria Ressa has made history as the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday, October 8, announced that Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.”

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace,” it said in its announcement.

“Ms. Ressa and Mr. Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia,” it added.

 

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ressa and Muratov 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.”

“Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines,” it noted.

“In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression,” the Nobel Peace Prize body added.

For her part, Ressa dedicated the award to her colleagues at Rappler.

“I think what we have to do as journalists is to just hold the line… When you attack the media, it’s oftentimes shooting the messenger… The recognition of how difficult it is to be a journalist today, this is for you Rappler,” she said in a live video with Rappler.

“I hope energy for us to continue the battle for facts… We’ll just keep doing on what we are doing,” she added.

In February this year, Ressa was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 by Norwegian labor leader and parliamentary representative Jonas Gahr Støre.

Støre noted that Ressa has been harassed, persecuted, and arrested numerous times due to her critical coverage of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. In 2020, Ressa and a Rappler staffer were found guilty of cyber libel over an article tying a Filipino businessman to alleged wrongdoings.

“Ressa has for years lived with death threats and harassment on social media. She is thus both a symbol and a representative of thousands of journalists around the world,” he said.

“The nomination fulfills key aspects of what is emphasized as peace-promoting in Alfred Nobel’s will. A free and independent press can inform about and help to limit and stop a development that leads to armed conflict and war,” he added.

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel.

Nobel laureates will receive 10 million Swedish kronor (SEK) or $1.15 million, as well as a diploma and a gold medal.

Before the Nobel Prize, Ressa was one of several journalists named Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for efforts to preserve press freedom.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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