November 11, 2019
Ref.: LAKAY GONZALO/PAUL M. GUTIERREZ
Stop slandering PH to skirt discussions of Rappler legal woes
STOP STORY-TELLING AND START BEING A REAL JOURNALIST, NPC TELLS MARIA RESSA
THE National Press Club of the Philippines today advised Ms. Maria Ressa, the head of online media outlet, Rappler, to stop her ‘story-telling’ that are far removed from reality and start becoming a “real journalist” if she wants her foreign-funded media entity to be taken seriously.
“While the NPC upholds and recognise the importance of a free-flow of ideas and opinions in a democracy, we must also put our foot down against Ms. Ressa’s statements last November 10 during an interview in the ’60 Minutes’ program of CBS (USA) where she described the Philippines as ‘worse than any war zone’ she has ever been,” the NPC said.
“We have to put our foot down over this statement because, clearly, this is a slander to our country and to all peace-loving, law-abiding Filipinos, those in the media included.
“For how can a country that has just breached its own tourist arrival target for 2019 this early (more than 6 million arrivals) can be considered a ‘war zone,’” the club asked, adding:
“Does Ms. Ressa have her facts and geography right? This is not Mexico.”
The NPC also challenged Ressa to categorically state, from her alleged long experience as a journalist, which part of the country or the world mired in violent conflict she had actually covered as this was presumably her basis of comparison when she described the Philippines as a ‘war zone.’
“Insofar as the NPC is concerned, none of its officers or members had been with Ms. Ressa in covering even the police beat and any of the conflict areas of Mindanao and Luzon in previous years.
“The only time most local journalists remember seeing Ms. Ressa inside a police station was when she was booked for libel filed by a private complainant based on a court-issued warrant and for her other violations of our securities and tax laws, violations that cover everyone,” the NPC pointed out.
In early 2018, the NPC also came out with a statement reminding Ressa and Rappler to follow and observe the rule of law that exempted no one.
This, after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found out that Rappler and Ressa violated the Philippine Constitution by accepting funding from foreign groups in the millions of dollars.
The foreign funds were sourced despite the clear and explicit provision in the Philippine Constitution that all media organisations in the country must be 100-percent owned (and funded) by Filipinos.
The Club also disagreed with Ressa’s assertion— shared by CBS anchor, Bill Whittaker— that her legal troubles are the “repercussions” of her critical articles against the government, which, Whittaker asserted without offering any proof, is “forceful” in its “opposition to the press.”
“Insofar as the NPC and other professional media organisations here in the country are concerned, Ms. Ressa’s fantastic claims bordering on slandering the country are her way of skirting discussions on her serious violations of the law.
“As for Mr. Whittaker, it would serve him best if he stops being a ‘parachute journalist’ who lands in any foreign country, judge present day realities based on his preformed opinion and report this as ‘fact’ based on what he briefly experienced here more than 30 years ago,” the NPC added.
“Thru the strong partnership today between the government and the various national media organisations, threats to the life, liberty and safety of all journalists are now being attended to, compared to previous administrations,” the NPC pointed out.
“As for Ms. Ressa, she should stop abusing her status as a ‘journalist’ to gain pity and escape prosecution for her past mistakes. As the saying goes, ‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’” ###