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Winning in the Philippines

The announcement of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov cited their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine and Literature. It has been awarded annually since 1901 to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The prizes are awarded by a committee of five people chosen by the Norwegian Parliament.

No Filipino has ever won a Nobel Peace Prize, the closest being Corazon C. Aquino.

According to the announcement, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.

It adds that Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in the Philippines. As a journalist, she has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Her outfit Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign where the number of deaths is so high that it resembles a war waged against the country’s own population. Ms. Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.

Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public and these rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.

As we congratulate Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021, we remain fully aware that the prestigious award does not mean they have won the battle for press freedom in their respective countries. A Filipino journalist winning will hopefully shine a brighter light on the situation in the Philippines and benefit its people if the attacks on press freedom finally let up.*

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