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Filipino news site Rappler to be first recipient of international fund for journalists facing threats to press freedom

International media groups started raising fund for journalists “facing extensive legal battles meant to suppress critical journalism”, and Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa will be the first recipient of the fund.

As mentioned in Rappler's site, this project is initiated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund (PFDF), with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) pledging assistance.

So far, the venture has gained USD$100,000 (S$136, 871) in pledges and is aiming to raise USD$500, 000 (S$684, 355) for news organisation like Rappler “to cover legal fees for news organisations unfairly targeted by government or powerful figures.”

The Philippines independent news site has long been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs that has shocked the audiences around the world. As such, the site along with its CEO were formally charged last month for its 5th tax evasion case, a move that many believe to be politically motivated to silence independent media in the Philippines.

“Journalism is under assault globally and we must do everything we can to ensure the free flow of information. Legal battles are one of several tactics used to silence journalists. We’re thrilled to partner with these leading organisations to support journalists, their sources, and other threatened actors who are providing a vital public service, said Jim Risen, the director of PFDF.

After Duterte’s administration filed five separate tax cases against Rappler and Ressa, they have become the first to benefit from this legal fund. The Philippine government’s moves against the news site have led to an outburst of support, with both the site and its CEO receiving awards, such as the CPJ’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.

In response to receiving the fund, Ressa said, “This is an unprecedented alliance for unprecedented times. Thank you, Press Freedom Defense Fund and Committee to Protect Journalists, which, along with the International Center for Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, will help us and other independent journalists #HoldTheLine.”

You can make donations by clicking on this link: https://pressfreedomdefensefund.org/donate.