WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH), Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus and of the U.S.-Philippine Friendship Caucus, Adam Schiff (D-CA), Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus, and Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Democratic Co-Chair of the U.S.-Philippine Friendship Caucus released the following statement today on the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. in the Philippines.
“We are deeply concerned by the conviction of Filipino journalists Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr. for ‘cyber libel,’” the Members said. “Ms. Ressa has been recognized internationally and by the U.S. House of Representatives for her fearless reporting and determination to provide independent news to the Filipino audience. Neither she nor any other journalist should be subject to harassment or prosecution for providing public access to information. We urge authorities to drop these politically-motivated charges against Ms. Ressa and Mr. Santos immediately and allow them and all journalists to continue their work without intimidation.”
Ms. Ressa and Mr. Santos were convicted on cyber libel charges stemming from an article published by Rappler, an online news site, in 2012 revealing a businessman’s alleged connections to illicit activities. They filed an appeal of the decision today, Monday, June 29.
Ms. Ressa is a renowned journalist, Founder and CEO of Rappler, and a dual citizen of the U.S. and the Philippines. Rappler has provided extensive coverage of President Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res. 345 to draw attention to threats faced by journalists globally, highlighting Ms. Ressa’s work, and subsequent harassment, among other cases.