Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

'Unfair' to accuse Duterte of bid to shut down Rappler - Roque

'Unfair' to accuse Duterte of bid to shut down Rappler - Roque

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a ruling made public Monday that Rappler violated the constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership and control of mass media companies when it received investment from an global investment firm.

The Inquirer itself was an he centre of controversy past year after it was sold to San Miguel owner Ramon Ang following a succession of attacks on Duterte's government.

He said Duterte had taken exception to "unfair" comments by Rappler editor and CEO Maria Ressa, who claimed that his government had violated press freedom. "We'll fight this all the way to the Supreme Court", she told the Post on Monday.

Rappler denied the allegations.

Rappler noted that the SEC's "kill order" revoking its license to operate was the first for both the commission and the Philippine media.

Rappler has had a rocky relationship with the administration of Duterte, who has publicly shown annoyance at its reporting and says it is entirely owned by Americans.

The decision is not final and Rappler, which has been allowed to continue operating as normal, said it would challenge it.

On Tuesday, Harry Roque Jr, presidential spokesperson, denied that the Rappler decision was an attack on press freedom.

Stupid However, either Ressa or Rappler's lawyers were so stupid as to have a provision in the PDRs sold to Omidyar Network that made it so obvious to the SEC that the Constitution had been violated.

"[They are] existing for no other goal than to effect a deceptive scheme to circumvent the constitution", the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a Jan 11 ruling to revoke Rappler's certificates of incorporation. The news site said it only has two foreign investors: Omidyar Network and North Base Media, neither of which have ownership shares or role in the company.

Rappler said its filings to the SEC in 2015 made it clear that just like several other media outlets, foreigners had invested in some of its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR), but did not own any shares, or have a say in operations.

The license revocation story was covered by global media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Agence France Presse, The Jakarta Post, The Guardian (London) and Yahoo.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) welcomed the decision, according to CNN Philippines. "You think that people in government are thieves and you oligarchs, you sons of whores, you think you are clean", Duterte said in Filipino.

Ressa obviously doesn't respect our laws nor our country, that she imputes other motives to the SEC decision, thereby portraying the Philippines as a dictatorship going after critical media.

Rappler called this ruling a blow to press freedom as it "is an attack on our lifeblood", putting at stake a business model that ensures free and fearless journalism.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has also criticised the move.

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday lashed out at online media news outlet Rappler, calling it a "fake news outlet".

Viewed against the fact that the news site was singled out by the administration as highly critical of its policies and decisions, SEC has dragged Rappler dangerously close to that place where free press is as fragile as can be.

The Philippine government has sought to shut down an independent news website, which has published critical stories about President Rodrigo Duterte, a move observers and journalists say is an attack on press freedom and democracy.

"The situation for journalists in Southeast Asia has arguably never been more dire", said Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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