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15 June 2020

The undersigned organizations express their profound disappointment over the verdict against Rappler’s Maria Ressa and former writer Rey Santos Jr. It is a big blow to press freedom especially given serious constitutional questions on whether the law is applicable at all. This would threaten our other rights and freedoms, which are woven together to serve and protect society, especially the most vulnerable. It raises alarm bells on the heels of the shutdown of ABS-CBN Corp.’s broadcast operations and the anti-terrorism bill that was certified urgent by and is awaiting signature of the president that dangerously diminishes civil rights.

The verdict — together with other recent developments — has a chilling effect on journalism at a time when we need it most: to get reliable information as we all fight the pandemic, especially when wrong information and intentional misinformation abound.

As we now face the biggest challenge in our lifetime in COVID-19, we rededicate ourselves to freedom of speech, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — rights invoked the last time the whole world was at war.

We call on all citizens and public officials to focus on preserving our constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms which are so essential to rebuilding our economy and society at the soonest possible time.

Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development (BBC)

Filipina CEO Circle (FCC)

Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD)

Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Inc. (ISA)

Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI)

Makati Business Club (MBC)

Philippine Business for Education (PBEd)