Urgent Action: Journalist Harassed to Silence Dissent (Philippines: UA 20.19)

Maria Ressa, executive editor of online news outlet Rappler and press freedom advocate, was arrested on 13 February 2019 over politically motivated “cyber-libel” charges (online defamation). She was held overnight and then released after posting PhP100,000 (approx. USD2,000) in bail. Rappler has been a consistent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, and Maria Ressa’s arrest appears to be part of broader campaign to silence critics of the government.



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Menardo I. Guevarra, Secretary
Department of Justice
DOJ Building, Padre Faura Street, Ermita,
Manila, 1000, Philippines
Phone: (+632) 523 8482 to 98
Email: [email protected]
H.E. Jose Manuel G. Romualdez
Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 467 9300, 202 467 9366
Fax: 202 467 9417
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Twitter: @PhilippinesUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador


Dear Secretary Guevarra:

I am writing to express my dismay at the arrest of Maria Ressa, executive editor of news outlet Rappler, which seems to be part of a broader campaign to silence critics of the Philippine government.

Rappler has been a consistent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, publishing detailed investigations into some of the thousands of extrajudicial executions committed by police and other unknown armed persons during drug-related operations. The arrest of Maria Ressa on the evening of 13 February 2019, on what appear to be politically-motivated charges of “cyber-libel”, is the latest attack against her and Rappler. It follows the bringing of “tax evasion” charges in December 2018 against Maria Ressa and her company, Rappler Holdings Corp. These charges are still pending in court. Amnesty International believes these, too, are trumped-up charges that were designed to stifle criticism of the President and his ‘war on drugs’.

I urge your office to act swiftly to uphold and protect the freedom of the press. Specifically, I urge you to drop the charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler, which appear to be solely politically motivated; end the harassment of the media, journalists, and critics of the Duterte administration, and take measures to guarantee their right to freedom of expression and assembly.