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‘Di si Ressa ang media! Palace slams foreign group for saying Pinoy journalists working under ‘oppressive’ conditions

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There’s no legal basis for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to say that Filipino journalists are working under “oppressive” conditions just because of the criminal charges Rappler executive Maria Ressa is facing, Malacañang said Tuesday (April 16).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo called CPJ’s statement a “hasty generalization that has no basis in fact nor in law.”

“Ms. Ressa or Rappler does not represent the entire media in the Philippines. There are local journalists who are similarly critical, even outrageously hostile and biased of the policies of the administration, but they continue to enjoy the practice of their profession free from charges or suits by reason of their not violating any laaw outside of the practice of their profession,” he said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, CPJ board chairperson Kathleen Carroll told reporters in Manila that “the oppressive working environment for journalists in the Philippines is alarming.”

Carroll cited as basis for her statement the cases filed against Ressa.

“The Duterte government files case after case against Rappler while the President himself lobs sustained, often personal attacks against individual journalists. Online harassment of journalists is highly organized and vicious,” she said.

Panelo, however, reiterated that criminal charges were filed against Ressa, the Chief Executive Officer of the website Rappler, because she allegedly violated Philippine laws.

Ressa is facing cases related to tax evasion, violation of the anti-dummy statute, and cyber libel.

“She cannot escape liabilities for these just because of her profession or politics. Ours is a system of law and no one is above it nor exempt from it,” Panelo said of Ressa.

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