Philippine government revokes license of critical news site Rappler

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippine government has revoked the operating license of one of the leading news portals in the country, Rappler.com, in a move that is seen as the latest blow to press freedom and journalists critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.

The country’s Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 16 announced  that it found that Rappler had violated the country’s Constitution and its registration would be revoked over foreign ownership rules. The SEC, an agency under the president, is responsible for enforcing securities and investment laws in the country, as well as maintaining company registry. It alleged that Rappler and its owner Rappler Holdings Corp. had violated a provision in the Constitution restricting media ownership to Filipinos.

The SEC said it came to the conclusion that Rapper used a “deceptive” ownership scheme which allowed a majority foreign ownership through unissued shares, a method that, however, other media companies in the Philippines are using too in order to attract foreign investment.

In the case of Rappler, it attracted US startup fund Omidyar Network in 2015, an investment vehicle created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar.  For the SEC, Rappler is in “American ownership.”

Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque was quick to declare that the license revocation was not politically motivated and had nothing to do with the fact that Rappler has been fiercely critical of Duterte’s administration since the controversial leader came to power in June 2016.

“The issue at hand is the compliance of 100-per cent Filipino ownership and management of mass media. It is not about infringement on the freedom of the press,” Roque said, adding that “no one is above the law. Rappler has to comply.”

However, Rappler’s founder and CEO, Maria Ressa, said the organisation would appeal against the decision.

“This is pure and simple harassment, the seeming coup de grace to the relentless and malicious attacks against us since 2016,” she said, adding that Rappler would continue to operate despite the order to close shop until all legal options are exhausted.

International and local groups condemned the decision, with the Committee to Protect Journalists calling it a “direct assault on freedom of the press,” and rights group Amnesty International saying it was “an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines released a statement saying it was “outraged” at the decision.

Human Rights Watch alleged that it was the president who was attempting to stifle Rappler, and issued a warning for the free press in the country.

 

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippine government has revoked the operating license of one of the leading news portals in the country, Rappler.com, in a move that is seen as the latest blow to press freedom and journalists critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippine government has revoked the operating license of one of the leading news portals in the country, Rappler.com, in a move that is seen as the latest blow to press freedom and journalists critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.

The country’s Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 16 announced  that it found that Rappler had violated the country’s Constitution and its registration would be revoked over foreign ownership rules. The SEC, an agency under the president, is responsible for enforcing securities and investment laws in the country, as well as maintaining company registry. It alleged that Rappler and its owner Rappler Holdings Corp. had violated a provision in the Constitution restricting media ownership to Filipinos.

The SEC said it came to the conclusion that Rapper used a “deceptive” ownership scheme which allowed a majority foreign ownership through unissued shares, a method that, however, other media companies in the Philippines are using too in order to attract foreign investment.

In the case of Rappler, it attracted US startup fund Omidyar Network in 2015, an investment vehicle created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar.  For the SEC, Rappler is in “American ownership.”

Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque was quick to declare that the license revocation was not politically motivated and had nothing to do with the fact that Rappler has been fiercely critical of Duterte’s administration since the controversial leader came to power in June 2016.

“The issue at hand is the compliance of 100-per cent Filipino ownership and management of mass media. It is not about infringement on the freedom of the press,” Roque said, adding that “no one is above the law. Rappler has to comply.”

However, Rappler’s founder and CEO, Maria Ressa, said the organisation would appeal against the decision.

“This is pure and simple harassment, the seeming coup de grace to the relentless and malicious attacks against us since 2016,” she said, adding that Rappler would continue to operate despite the order to close shop until all legal options are exhausted.

International and local groups condemned the decision, with the Committee to Protect Journalists calling it a “direct assault on freedom of the press,” and rights group Amnesty International saying it was “an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines released a statement saying it was “outraged” at the decision.

Human Rights Watch alleged that it was the president who was attempting to stifle Rappler, and issued a warning for the free press in the country.

 

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid