While the government was not shy about its intention to prosecute both traders and users, hard data on the number of killings were often hard to come by. An indispensable source of information for both the international media and readers in the Philippines was the up-and-coming news site Rappler, which now faces a trade-off with the government with which it has studied.
The formal allegations carry a potential prison sentence of 1
In January, the Filipino Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) temporarily suspended rapper registration on the basis of the country's constitutional oversight of foreign property laws.
The Filipino officials claim that Rappler and Ressa did not declare this $ 3 million in 2015 for tax returns from an investment by the Omidyar Network, a fund founded by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar.
Award-winning journalist Ressa, who previously served as head of the CNN office in Manila, defended Rappler's ownership structure as "100"% Filipino "and claims that the charges against her company are politically motivated.
"I no longer have synonyms for the word" ridiculous. "The basis for this case is that Rappler is considered a securities trader, and I'm definitely not a stockbroker," Ressa told CNN on Thursday after the news broke was broken over the indictment.
Shawn Crispin, representative of CPJ Southeast Asia, said the charges were a "blatant form of legal harassment" and underscore that President Rodrigo Duterte has been desperately trying to suppress his critical coverage of his government.
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At least 5,000 people were killed as a result of the Duterte drug war, its landmark and its most controversial policy. However, this number is the official police census, and the opposition legislators and legal groups estimate that the actual death toll could be tens of thousands.
The victims included children and innocent people, as well as ordinary drug users and extrajudicially executed offenders.
"Just because you're a journalist, you're not exempt from murder if you're a son of a bitch," said Duterte in comments that were quickly denounced by press groups. "Freedom of expression can not help you if you did something wrong."
In the recent press freedom index, the Philippines dropped six places to 134 out of 180 countries. The authors of the report warned that the "dynamics of the media … was tested by the emergence of a leader who wants to show him is all powerful."
Ressa has previously highlighted the impact of Facebook on disseminating disinformation and attacks on journalists on the Internet, saying that this has become a key policy for the Duterte government.
"In August 2016, I shared this information with Facebook, saying that's really alarming. These people are aimed at anyone who attacks, who asks questions about the drug war. The drug war began in July 2016. It is target group journalists. It addresses all persons who have criticized President Duterte. These attacks are abominable. It brings out the worst of human nature. "
Ressa was abroad when the charges against Rappler were first announced, but she swore to Even if this comes from a prison cell,
" Our Democracy is in transition … The mission of journalism has never been as necessary as it is now and we will continue these stories. "
CNN's Joshua Berlinger and Euan McKirdy contributed to the coverage.