Leila De Lima thanks Maria Ressa for telling her story in Nobel speech

Detained Senator Leila De Lima on Monday thanked the country’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner Rappler CEO Maria Ressa for telling her story in her speech when she received her award in Oslo.

De Lima said she would always admire Ressa’s courage to speak the truth and fight for freedom of expression and of the press despite the “unyielding attacks” against her by the Duterte administration.

“Thank you, @mariaressa, for sharing my story and that of others, and our struggles, to the world. Congratulations again. Indeed, the world is watching and taking an action. Tuloy ang laban,” De Lima said on Twitter.

During Resa’s speech, she noted that there had been “costs” for those who help keep journalists safer and working in the country.

“In the Philippines, more lawyers have been killed–at least 63 compared to the 22 journalists murdered after President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. Since then, Karapatan, a member of our #CourageON human rights coalition, has had 16 people killed, and Senator Leila De Lima, because she demanded accountability, is serving her fifth year in jail,” Ressa said.

Ressa, the first Filipino Nobel laureate, shared the prize with Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov, for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

“Sa panahon na maraming nagdadalawang-isip at nananahimik laban sa kasinungalingan at pagyurak sa malayang pamamahayag, isa ka sa mga nanindigan para mangibabaw ang katotohanan. And that is truly worthy of recognition and admiration. You brought unrivalled honor to our country,” De Lima said.

(At a time when lots of people are hesitant and silent about the lies and abuse of the free press, you are one of those who stood up for the truth to prevail.)

The palace earlier denied that press freedom was under attack in the Philippines.

“This is not a slap [on the administration]. There is no censorship of the media, and the Nobel Peace Prize proves that,” former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Atty. Dino de Leon, one of De Lima’s legal counsels and spokesperson, said on Sunday that Ressa tried to visit her before leaving for Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize but was not allowed to do so.

De Lima, a former Justice secretary and a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, has been detained since February 2017 at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame due to drug-related charges.

A drug case against her was junked by a Muntinlupa City court in February of this year. She has repeatedly denied involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Further, de Lima issued a letter on Friday during the International Human Rights Day, noting that this year’s theme, “Reducing Inequalities, Advancing Human Rights” is timely for the country where “inequalities have worsened.”

She said that the Filipinos thus strive to give strength to one another through volunteer programs and bayanihan.

De Lima also urged the public to vote for leaders during the Eleksyon 2022 who will prioritize human rights in their platforms.

“Sa aspeto man ng pagpapabuti sa ekonomiya, paggiit sa ating soberanya, sa pagtugon sa pandemya, piliin natin ang mga pinunong isasaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng mamamayan, lalong-lalo na ang mga matagal nang inaapi, pinagkaitan ng maayos na serbisyo, mga biktima ng karahasan, pang-aabuso at pamamaslang,” she said.

(Whether in the aspect of economic improvement, asserting our sovereignty, responding to the pandemic, let us choose the leaders who will consider the welfare of the people, especially those who have long been oppressed, deprived of proper services, and are victims of violence, abuse, and murder.)

De Lima is seeking reelection in the May 2022 national elections. -NB, GMA News

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