Philippines Lukewarm On TIME 2018 Person Of The Year Maria Ressa

TIME 2018 Person Of The Year
TIME 2018 Person Of The Year is one highly coveted award, but the Philippines was lukewarm about having one of its journalists receiving the award. (Photo: Courtesy Time Magazine/Handout via REUTERS)

TIME 2018 Person Of The Year featured "The Guardians," a group of journalists whom in their respective countries were targeted for revealing truths behind their governments. The edition was presented in a series of four black-and-white covers.

TIME creative director D.W. Pine said the subjects this year were subjected to dangers by merely doing their jobs. Their cases are a strong representation of what he called "global war on truth."

These people included jailed Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists who defied ethnic divisions in their country. They documented deaths of minority Rohingya Muslims and got 7 years in jail while the killers they exposed got 10 years.

Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was dismembered in a consulate in Istanbul and investigations suggested the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had a hand behind the murder. He was a strong critic of the Prince. 

The staff of the Capital Gazette who continue to do their jobs despite many of their colleagues dying when their newsroom was gunned down in June.

TIME 2018 Person Of The Year also included Philippines-based editor Maria Ressa who founded Rappler, an online news site which has been critical to incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte.

Rappler has been at the forefront of covering and exposing alleged human rights violation behind Duterte's war on drugs. In January, Human Rights Watch estimated that his war on drugs claimed the lives of 12,000 people.

At one point the Duterte administration prevented a journalist from covering police operations.

Last month, Ressa was charged with tax evasion related to Rappler's business operations. The administration is also alleging that Rappler was foreign-owned,

Ressa argued that charges against her were politically motivated.

On Dec. 13, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo was reluctant when asked about the award, saying it is an award from an organization which set its own basis in awarding people. Whether the government agrees or not, it is immaterial to the award.

Panelo, however, maintained that the Duterte administration is not breaching the country's freedom of expression. In fact, he described it as robust as there are obviously strong critics of the president but no one has been prosecuted for such criticisms. He insisted that charges against Ressa were because she allegedly broke the law.

Panelo said that Ressa's being a journalist does not exclude her from prosecution when the court found probable cause about the alleged tax evasion charges.

© 2019 Business Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Sign Up for Newsletters and Alerts