This morning’s arrest of Rappler CEO and TIME Person of the Year Maria Ressa demonstrates the Duterte government’s targeted harassment of critical journalists and the free press, according to Akbayan Partylist in a statement released on Friday.
“We strongly condemn the government’s action to cripple the exercise of press freedom and to move the country more towards authoritarian rule,” Akbayan Partylist Spokesperson Gio Tingson said. Akbayan Partylist also said that the arrest sends an ominous message to all journalists critical of the Duterte administration. “The President wants to paralyze freedom of the press as part of his authoritarian project”, Tingson remarked.
Ressa was served her second arrest warrant as she arrived in NAIA on a case filed by the government for alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. “The government’s diligence in filing a string of cases against Maria and Rappler clears any doubt that selective justice is hard at work”, Tingson also said.
Akbayan Partylist pointed out the ‘government’s hypocrisy in serving arrest warrants’. “The government is inutile in serving arrest warrants for criminals and bigtime drug lords. It is out arresting journalists while bigtime druglords remain free”, Tingson added.
Akbayan is asking the public to express their collective support behind Maria and Rappler. “Free press is fundamental to any democracy. The people must hold the line against the President’s authoritarian wishes”, Tingson concluded.