30,000 int'l petitioners to PH: Drop charges vs Maria Ressa

Amnesty International Australia sends the petition, with nearly 30,000 signatures, to Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Rappler.com

Published: 12:38 PM May 5, 2019

Updated: 9:43 PM May 6, 2019

SUPPORT. Amnesty International Australia sends a petition to the Department of Justice, urging it to drop the charges against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. The petition is signed by nearly 30,000 petitioners. Photo from Amnesty International Australia

MANILA, Philippines – Amnesty International Australia urged the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop the charges against Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.

In a tweet, the human rights group said it faxed the petition, with nearly 30,000 signatures, requesting Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to drop the "politically motivated" and "trumped up" charges against Rappler and Ressa, and to uphold press freedom.

"You guys did it! We just faxed nearly 30,000 of your names over to the authorities in the Philippines! Thanks for standing with journalist Maria Ressa," Amnesty International Australia said in a tweet.

You guys did it! We just faxed nearly 30,000 of your names over to the authorities in the Philippines! Thanks for standing with journalist Maria Ressa this #WorldPressFreedomDay pic.twitter.com/NcMXaBbMeN — Amnesty International Australia (@amnestyOz) May 3, 2019

The petition, signed by supporters worldwide, called on the DOJ "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," the petition read.

As of March 2019, a total of 11 complaints and cases have been filed against Ressa, Rappler directors, and staff.

Rappler has been subject to harassment and intimidation by the Duterte administration. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte himself has repeated false allegations against Rappler, including being supposedly funded by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Its reporters and correspondents have also been barred from covering all presidential events across the country. (READ: Rappler asks Supreme Court to end Duterte coverage ban) – Rappler.com