MANILA, Philippines – Committee on the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday night, July 9, announced the launch of the global “Hold the Line” campaign and reporting initiatives in support of Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa and independent media attacked in the Philippines.
This came less than a month after Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 sentenced the rapper’s CEO and managing editor Maria Ressa and former rapper-writer-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. to cyber-relief charges in a high-profile verdict on June 15.
The conviction relates to a rapper’s story which raised questions about his connections with former Chief Counsel Renato Corona 2012 – before the law was even passed. The case depended on the correction of a typo. (READ: Maria Ressa arrestingly tests the boundaries of the Philippine Cyber Law)
“The campaign derives its name from Ressa’s commitment to” keep the line “in response to protracted government harassment and widespread online violence,” the press release states.
Ressa faces 7 other charges before the Tax and Appeal Court and the Pasig City RTC, which stems from the parent case of the company’s PDR, as the Appeals Law (CA) have decided to have already been cured.
Ressa and Rappler have said that these cases represent a clear pattern of harassment against independent media and are intended to scare the organization. Rappler is not the only independent media organization in the Philippines that is about to get the attacks.
Since 2016, Duterte has crushed the Philippine media because he claimed journalists “were not exempt from the murder.” In his speeches, the president has thrown countless insults at reporters. (READ: 154 attacks, threats against journalists since Duterte took office – media groups)
Duterte has also repeatedly threatened to shut down the media, accusing him of unfair reporting of his administration’s policies, including Inquirer, ABS-CBN and Rappler. As of publication, TV network giant ABS-CBN remains in the air as it fights for its franchise renewal in Congress.
“I am touched by the incredible outpouring of support we have received from around the world for our #HoldTheLine campaign against tyranny – even as President Duterte continues his public attacks against me, legal harassment and state-licensed and Facebook-driven violence escalate online raging on. We cannot be silenced because silence is consent, “ Sa Ressa. (READ: LIST: Groups around the world decorate “new weapon” versus freedom of the press after ruling in the cyberlible)
Those interested in showing support and help with #HoldTheLine can take two immediate steps in response to Ressa’s next hearing scheduled for July 22:
- Join the # HoldTheLine Coalition by getting in touch through the Steering Committee.
- Sign and share this petition calling on the Philippine government to drop all charges and cases against Ressa, Santos and Rappler, and end the pressure on independent media in the Philippines.
The 33 founding members of the #HoldTheLine coalition include:
- Committee to protect journalists (steering committee)
- International Center for Journalists (Steering Committee)
- Reporters Without Borders (Steering Committee)
- Association for International Broadcasting (AIB)
- Alliance for journalists’ freedom
- Amnesty International
- ARTICLE 19
- DART Asia Pacific
- Dart Center
- Free Press Unlimited
- Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
- Global media development forums
- International News Safety Institute
- International Press Institute (IPI)
- International Women’s Media Foundation (IMF)
- James W. Foley Legacy Foundation
- Judith Neilson Institute; Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF)
- Namibia Media Trust (NMT)
- Open Society Foundations (OSF)
- Pakistan Press Foundation
- PEN America
- Press Freedom Defense Fund
- Public Media Alliance
- Pulitzer Center for crisis reporting
- Rory Peck Trust
- South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)
- Story Hunter
- signaling network
- World Association for Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
- World Editors Forum