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Maria Ressa, founder and editor of the Philippines-based news site Rappler, was presented the 2018 Golden Pen of Freedom for her persistence and dedication to journalism in the face of threats and harassment from her government and its supporters.

Ms. Ressa received the award, presented annually by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers to recognize an “outstanding action … in the cause of press freedom,” as she continues to weather a near-constant storm of gender-based harassment from supporters of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has aimed to crack down on dissenting voices in the country’s media.

“You don’t really know who you are until you’re forced to fight to defend it,” Ms. Ressa said during her acceptance speech in Cascais, Portugal. “Then every battle you win – or lose … every compromise you choose to make … or to walk away from … all these struggles define the values you live by and, ultimately, who you are. We at Rappler decided that when we look back at this moment a decade from now, we will have done everything we could: We did not duck, we did not hide.”

Mr. Duterte’s administration revoked Rappler’s licence of incorporation in January and barred it from government briefings. Since then, the government has brought multiple judicial and legal investigations against the outlet, including an accusation of tax evasion of US$2.5-million, a claim Ms. Ressa says is baseless.

“Rappler really has demonstrated incredible courage and innovation in reporting on what has been nothing less than an absolute human-rights calamity in terms of Duterte’s so-called war on drugs,” said Phelim Kine, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, where he works with Ms. Ressa.

“Maria,” he said, “is the glue that holds Rappler together. She is this inexhaustible, relentlessly positive and forceful woman who has a will of iron that really has been able to rise to the challenge that the Duterte government is throwing up.”

Ms. Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for more than 30 years, including a nearly two-decade-long stint as bureau chief for CNN in Manila and Jakarta. She launched Rappler in 2012 and has since produced stories critical of the government’s war on drugs and abuses of power.

“To the men and women of Rappler, this is your courage. You inspire me,” Ms. Ressa said. “But this award goes beyond Rappler,” she said in her speech. “It’s for all Filipino journalists … for the men and women in government … all the Filipinos who continue to fight for our values.”

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