The Malaya Movement in Canada congratulates Maria Ressa as co-recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. In its announcement, the Nobel Committee cited Ms. Ressa’s
“efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Ms Ressa …[is] receiving the Peace Prize for [her] … courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines….”
But the attacks on Ms. Ressa are not isolated. The situation of the press in the Philippines is dire. The Committee to Protect Journalists lists nine journalists murdered since Duterte took power. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism states that of the 233 cases of attacks against and threats to members of the press, 114 are directly linked to government officials, military and police. These 233 cases include 19 killings and 8 attempted killings, 52 acts of intimidation, 37 cases of libel, 20 cases of online harassment, 15 cases of threats via SMS or messaging apps, and so on, including the cancellation of the franchise of the country’s largest broadcaster ABS-CBN.
The Human Rights Watch World Report 2021 has noted that there is a broad range of state sponsored violence in the Philippines, including the killing of 208 human rights activists, and a drug war that “the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, put the death toll at 8,663, although domestic human rights groups, including the government’s Commission on Human Rights, believe the real figure could be triple the number reported in the OHCHR report.”
Canada needs to stand up and defend international human rights. The Government of Canada states that “Canadians care about human rights. They expect their government to help build respect for human rights at home and around the world.” Canadians need to know why the Government of Canada is not pressuring the Duterte regime to uphold the human rights of the Filipino people, and end his genocidal war against the poor, the human rights advocates, and the press.