MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday appeared to have taken a swipe at Maria Ressa after TIME Magazine honored the Rappler chief.
The publication named Ressa one of its 2018 Person of the Year.
“Alam mo itong mga human rights. ‘Look at Duterte.’ They go everywhere. Seven hundred . . . a time of the . . . a time of the magazine, woman of the century and all. Inyo na ’yan,” Duterte said, without mentioning names, in a speech during a hotel inauguration in Las Piñas City.
Besides Ressa, TIME also chose slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, jailed Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland, which lost 5 of its staff in an attack last June. They were collectively called “guardians” of the truth.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday said it was TIME’s call to name Ressa its Person of the Year, even as he maintained that freedom of expression in the country remains “robust.”
“Certainly we cannot intrude into that. It’s not our turf. Whether we agree or not, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
The government has been criticized for going after its critics, among them Senator Leila de Lima, who is currently detained on what she labeled as trumped up charges, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who is also facing a slew of charges ranging from libel to coup d’etat.
Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was removed from office for failing to submit a complete set of her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth, said on Tuesday that under President Duterte, the law seems to have become an “instrument of injustice.”