By Jun Ledesma

Nobel Prize anyone?

February 8, 2021, 1:31 pm

THIS is something for the Ripley’s. A nominee and the nominator for Nobel Peace Prize are known way ahead of the selection and announcement of the winner.

I don’t know whether the Nobel Committee had changed the rules. The last time I know, the nominations are kept secret for a period of 50 years! How Maria Ressa of Rappler got to know she was nominated and the name of her endorser, a Norwegian labor leader named Jonas Ghar Store, was announced months before the official date a winner is known, is really a wonderment. The New York Times has a way of chastising those who speculate about their nominations; “Nominated for a Nobel Prize? Wait until you receive it to brag”.

Maria Ressa, a Filipino-American journalist, had been on the radar screen because of her so-called expose’ of the alleged extra-judicial killings which she culled from the “confession” of a perjured witness, Edgar Matobato who claimed to be a member of the Davao Death Squad. DDS, he asserted was organized by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte when he was  Mayor of Davao City. The death statistics cited by Matobato and Rappler reveal the incredulity of his confession and Rappler's articles. From 2,000 it rose to 7,000 and when Ressa appeared in American press the figures blazoned to 27,000. Amnesty International joined the fray and reported on the heels of the ASEAN Forum in Manila that the EJK casualty was over 30 million. 

Interviewed in CBS Bill Whitaker’s  “60 Minutes”, Maria Ressa who opted to reside in the Philippines rather than the US of A, described the Philippines as “worse than any war zone”.  But she loves it here.  She complained of curtailment of her freedom as a journalist, but she stands out as the most free-wheeling critic of the Duterte government.  In a number of times, she has gone overboard in libeling private persons leading to her conviction.  And then she cries to the western press that her rights and those of other journalists in the Philippines are suppressed and she is being threatened. As I write this piece there are thousands of media establishments in the country, which debase, lampoon the Duterte government every minute of the day.

How the western audience believed her story is beyond me. The Davao Death Squad is a myth. It is a squad of ghost soldiers created by then-Police Regional Commander Col. Dionisio Tan-gatue, Jr. DDS was part of psychological warfare pitted against the communist New Peoples Army liquidation squad sometime in 1984. Dutere then just passed the bar and was appointed assistant city prosecutor and hardly a politician. Matobato skipped the fact that in 1989, the Commission on Human Rights headed by its Chairperson then Leila De Lima, conducted a four-month probe in Davao City and part of that were series of diggings in search of remains of the EJK victims in the abandoned quarry.  The probe team found nothing.   

Maria Ressa’s Rappler was partly funded by Omidyar Network described as a philanthropic investment firm that is against the Philippine Constitution. When the Securities and Exchange Commission probed into the case which later took an ugly turn because no taxes had been paid on the transactions Maria cried wolf to her western audience.  

Last week, Rappler bannered in the social media platform that Maria Ressa was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian labor leader. It raised the quizzical eyebrows of those who are in the know about how the Nobel Prize Committee conducts the awards. It is also intriguing because the alleged nominator is a Norwegian and for certain, more than anyone else, knows the conduct and criteria of the award.  For Rappler anyway, it is a cause for celebration and despite all its speculation has launched a campaign for donation


About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.