Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended Rappler president Maria Ressa for being named as one of “Persons of the Year” by Time Magazine for 2018, along with other journalists attacked in their respective countries for speaking truth to power.
In her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 434, De Lima said Time’s recognition of Ressa – whom the Senator called a real “People’s Champ” – as among the bravest and effective heroes, has brought honor and pride to the Filipinos.
“Congratulations to Ms. Ressa! May you continue to fight the good fight. Someday the Filipino people will realize the debt it owes to every single honest-to-goodness journalist, who perseveres in bringing the Truth to the people, even at great personal expense,” she said.
“It is an honor to us Filipinos, not just because she is one of us, but more importantly because she, along with her colleagues in Rappler, has been fighting for us. She is not doing it for glory or for money. She does it simply because the Filipinos deserve to know the truth,” she added.
Aside from Ressa, Time Magazine also chose slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, jailed Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters and the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, which lost five of its staff in an attack last June, for its “Persons of the Year.” They were collectively called by Time as “The Guardians”: the journalists who are “taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out.”
De Lima noted the cover with Ressa and the Reuters journalists who exposed the slaughter of the Rohingya people represent “Defender of Truth” who have been imprisoned or criminally charged for trumped-up charges that are intended to neutralize them. Ressa, who co-founded the online news site Rappler in 2012, has been an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration. She and her company face tax evasion cases filed by the Department of Justice. De Lima described The Guardians as heroes who wield powerful weapons in the form of their words and their endless commitment to truth.
“They face the scariest of villains for they are the most dangerous enemies of the public: the politically and economically powerful, who choose to wield their power and influence to subjugate the rest of humanity to further their own, already well-padded, interests.
“Mayayaman at makakapangyarihan na, nagpapayaman at naghahabol pa ng mas malawak at walang hanggang kapangyarihan. Vampires who greedily suck the lifeblood of society,” she said.
Recognized by Time Magazine as one of 100 Most Influential People, one of the Icons, for 2017, De Lima is unjustly detained on trumped-up drug charges for political reasons and Duterte’s personal vendetta.