Palace: Ressa's Nobel Peace Prize 'not a slap' on Duterte administration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — Malacañang on Monday congratulated veteran journalist Maria Ressa for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but emphasized “it is not a slap” on the Duterte administration.

"It was made by private individuals in Norway. We respect their decision," said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who also acknowledged that Ressa was the first Filipino to win the prestigious award.

"There is no slap there because as everyone knows, no one has ever been censored in the Philippines," he added.

Rappler’s chief executive officer shares the award with Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited their efforts to fight for freedom of expression in their respective countries.

Roque quoted writer and National Artist F. Sionil Jose's Facebook post disagreeing with Ressa's win. He argued that free press exists in the Philippines at present, noting President Rodrigo Duterte "hasn't closed a single newspaper or radio station" while ABS-CBN's closure was Congress' doing.

"Press freedom is alive, and the proof is the Nobel Peace award given to Maria Ressa," Roque said.

"It's a victory for a Filipina and we're very happy for that kasi wala naman pong utak-talangka dito sa (because no one has crab mentality here in) Malacañang. But of course, it is true there are individuals who feel that Maria Ressa still has to clear her name before our courts," he added, citing Ressa’s conviction for cyber libel last year.

Leaders and organizations locally and globally, meanwhile, called the feat a victory for press freedom across the world. Some also called for an end to legal attacks against Ressa. 

Lawmakers laud Ressa

Some senators also praised the veteran journalist for bagging the prestigious award.

"It is only fitting that the Senate bestows and confers the Senate Medal of Excellence to Maria Ressa for giving the country its first Nobel Prize since the award's establishment in 1895," said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, adding she automatically qualifies for it.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri proposed amending the Senate’s rules further to clarify the medal can be given automatically to recipients of prestigious awards like the Nobel Prize.

Filipinos who bagged the Pulitzer Prize, A.M. Turing Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award, or an Olympic medal shall be conferred with the Senate Medal of Excellence, according to Senate Resolution 110.

"We will have to clarify when the clause for a unanimous vote does and does not apply, and if need be, we will introduce the proper amendments to avoid any further confusion in the future," said Zubiri.

Sen. Richard Gordon filed a resolution seeking high acclamation for Ressa's feat. The Makabayan bloc also filed a House resolution seeking to commend and congratulate Ressa for her achievement.

Meanwhile, presidential aspirant and Senator Ronald dela Rosa believes Ressa should not have received the award.

"If the basis for awarding her is she fought for press freedom then mali ang awarding body na 'yan. Mali. Hindi ako agree dahil meron naman talagang press freedom," said the senator, who also argued Ressa shouldn't receive the Senate Medal of Excellence.

[Translation: If the basis for awarding her is she fought for press freedom then that awarding body is wrong. I don't agree because there really is press freedom in the country.]

CNN Philippines correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.