President Duterte congratulates Filipino journalist Ressa on Nobel Prize win

Journalist Maria Ressa, the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's office on Monday (Oct 11) congratulated journalist Maria Ressa for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, calling it "a victory for a Filipina" for which it was happy to see.

Ms Ressa and fellow journalist Dmitry Muratov from Russia shared the 2021 prize after braving the wrath of the leaders of their countries to expose corruption and misrule.

Ms Ressa has been fighting multiple legal challenges in courts related to Rappler's dogged investigative reporting of Mr Duterte's government, its bloody war on drugs, and its use of social media to target opponents.

"It is a victory for a Filipina and we are very happy for that," presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a regular news conference, responding to a question on what the award meant for the government. "Of course it is true there are individuals who feel Maria Ressa still has to clear her name before the courts," he said, in the first comment on Friday's award from Mr Duterte's camp.

The firebrand leader has described Rappler, launched in 2012, as a "fake news outlet" and a tool of the US Central Intelligence Agency, which Ms Ressa has dismissed as nonsense.

The Prize was hailed by many in the Philippines, with critics saying it is a rebuke on Mr Duterte, a frequent critic of Rappler.

It was the first Nobel Peace Prize for the Philippines and the first for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935. The Kremlin congratulated Mr Muratov last Friday, describing the investigative journalist as talented and brave.

Asked on Monday what her message would be to Mr Duterte, Ms Ressa urged him not to pursue a divide and conquer approach.

"I beg you, unite this nation. Don't tear us apart," she said in an interview with news channel ANC.

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