“WOMAN of the century and all. Inyo na ‘yan.”
President Rodrigo Duterte said as he took an apparent swipe at Rappler CEO Maria Ressa who was recently honored by the Time Magazine.
Duterte was talking about his controversial war against illegal drugs in a speech in Las Piñas City when he brought up his sentiments against critics of his campaign against drug abuse.
Rappler, for one, has published articles that scrutinized the anti-narcotics drive which has killed nearly 5,000 suspected drug users and peddlers since Duterte took office in June 2016.
“Alam mo itong mga human rights. ‘Look at Duterte.’ They go everywhere... a time of the woman of the century and all. Inyo na ‘yan,” Duterte said.
“Ako simple lang ako. I’m a worker of government and I work for the people. The long and short of my oath is: I have to protect the people of the Republic of the Philippines and I have to preserve the nation.”
He also maintained that he is willing to go to prison for his actions in relation to the campaign.
“Even if I’m the only one trying to answer or to justify my actuation, I will do it. As I have said, even if it would cost my freedom. I will go to prison,” the President said.
Ressa, murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a pair of imprisoned Reuters reporters and The Capital Gazette were named Time’s Person of the Year 2018 as the magazine hailed them “for taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday, the government cannot “intrude” into Time’s decision to award Ressa and that the continued criticism against the Duterte administration showed the “freedom of expression in this country is a robust one.”
“Nobody has been prosecuted for criticizing the administration. Those who have been charged are in connection not with freedom of expression but for commission of crimes which the courts have found probable cause,” the Palace official said.
Ressa’s citation on Time came after she posted bail at the Court of Tax Appeals where she is facing four tax charges in her capacity as president of Rappler Holdings.
She was separately charged before a Pasig City court for allegedly failing to report the total quarterly sales receipts coming from the issuance and sale of Rappler’s Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) in the second quarter of 2015.