Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa to youth: ‘Ability to speak your mind’ at core of every decision

Jodesz Gavilan
Maria Ressa to youth: ‘Ability to speak your mind’ at core of every decision

LAUREATE. Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa takes part in a news conference at the Prime Minister's residence in Oslo, Norway, December 11, 2021.

Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/Reuters

'Freedom of expression is the core of every other freedom that is guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution, guaranteed in democracies around the world,' says Nobel laureate Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler chief executive officer and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa on Saturday, December 11, highlighted the importance of freedom of expression in everyday life, especially as it is under siege not just in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world.

During a press conference with her fellow Nobel laureate, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, and Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Ressa was asked why the youth should care and fight for freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is the core of every other freedom that is guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution, guaranteed in democracies around the world,” the first Filipino Nobel Prize recipient said.

“So as you get older, there are many things you will decide, you will make choices, and you’ll find that at the core of all of that is your ability to speak your mind,” Ressa added.

Ressa formally received the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, December 10, in Oslo, Norway. She and Muratov, editor-in-chief of Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, were named this year’s awardees “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

The 2021 Nobel laureates lead newsrooms in countries where there are state-sponsored attacks against the press and democratic institutions, among others.

Ressa, an award-winning journalist who co-founded Rappler in 2012, is facing seven active cases in the Philippines. She has also been the target of attacks from President Rodrigo Duterte himself and his government as she continues to be a global voice against disinformation.

She reminded the youth that they must have a stronger armor as attacks against those who speak their mind mount across the world.

“You are coming into a world where freedom of expression or freedom of speech is being used to stifle freedom of speech,” she said, adding that it is best to “know when you’re under attack” and to have a team that will have your back.

The press conference was part of the activities for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. On Friday, before the formal awarding, Ressa and Muratov met with the youth in a program organized by Save the Children.

Ressa said the event was “one of the most energizing parts of the visit…because it is a great reminder of exactly why we do what we do.” – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.