"Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch," Duterte said. "Freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong." These comments were a dark augur of a coming crackdown on journalists in the Philippines, as Duterte's administration has waged "lawfare" on his critics in the media: forcing a television station off the air, suing a media outlet over tax evasion, and prosecuting multiple reporters on spurious charges. Under Duterte, the Philippines has fallen nine spots in an annual world press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
On Monday, Rappler founder and former CNN correspondent Maria Ressa was found guilty of "cyber libel" and faces up to 7 years in prison. Ressa also faces eight other charges in connection to Rappler's reporting.