HAMBURG, Germany - Rappler CEO Maria Ressa on Saturday appealed to attendees of the world’s largest investigative journalism conference to “come together” and stand against “political bullies” as her newsroom continues to face multiple cases in the Philippines.
“An attack on one is an attack on all,” said Ressa, who has been charged with 11 cases, including libel and tax evasion.
“If we do not take the right step forward, democracy - as we know it - is dead,” she said in a keynote speech delivered at the 11th Global Investigative Journalism Conference.
Ressa earlier described the cases against her as a form of persecution for producing critical reports against President Rodrigo Duterte.
She was arrested twice this year and is out on bail, while journalists affiliated with news website Rappler have been banned from covering the president’s events.
Rappler has been receiving 90 hate messages per hour since Duterte started criticizing the news site in 2016, Ressa said.
The Philippine legal system has been “weaponized against those who dare to ask questions,” she said.
“Look at our country because this is democracy’s dystopic future.” she said. “This is how a nation loses its soul.”
Journalists around the world must “seriously come together” and “join forces with the academe and other truth-tellers to avoid being silenced by strongman regimes, Ressa said.
“Political bullies who threaten & abuse journalists are never happy until they get capitulation,” she said.
“Do not take the first step. This is the challenge for all of us today.,” she said.