According to SEC, Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holding Corp is held responsible for “violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media enforceable through rules and laws within the mandate of the Commission.”
In a report by CNN, SEC reported that Rappler circumvented the constitution through fraudulent transactions, receiving an investment amounting to $1 million dollars from a foreign company, Omidyar Network.
SEC further stated that Rappler is “a mass media entity that sold control to foreigners” by failing to adhere to Article XVI, Section 11 (1) of the constitution, which states:
Rappler denounces the SEC decision, labeling it as a form of harassment to them and to press freedom.
“We intend to not only contest this through all legal processes available to us but also to fight for our freedom to do journalism and for your right to be heard through an independent platform like Rappler.,” added Rappler in the statement they released in their official website.
The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines and the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines condemn the government decision against the news website
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) slam the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision revoking the registration of news website Rappler.
The NUJP expressed its “outrage” and said it supported the online news agency.
“As it does so, the NUJP declares its full support to Rappler and all other independent media outfits that the state has threatened and may threaten to shut down. We call on all Filipino journalists to unite and resist every and all attempts to silence us,” NUJP said in a statement.
The group said the ruling against Rappler is just one of many threats of President Rodrigo Duterte against critical media, citing Duterte’s statements against Inquirer and ABS-CBN.
“The SEC has apparently decided to reject Rappler’s contention that its foreign investors merely placed money in the outfit but do not own it, which it issued after President Rodrigo Duerte, in his state of the nation address last year, threatened to have its ownership investigated,” NUJP said.
“It was but one of many threats Duterte has made against media critical of him and his governance, such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer and broadcast network ABS-CBN, whose franchise renewal he threatened to block,” it added.
FOCAP also expressed “deep concern” with the decision, which it said is “tantamount to killing the online news site” and an “assault against democracy.”
“[It] sends a chilling effect to media organizations in the country. Journalists must be able to work independently in an environment free from intimidation and harassment,” the group said
“An assault against journalists is an assault against democracy,” FOCAP added.
Let’s Organize for Democracy Integrity (LODI), a group of artists and members of the media also denounced the ruling, saying it is “an open attack on the people’s rights to free expression and to a free press.”
“We view the SEC action, which by some accounts seems rushed, as the logical next step to the DDS-initiated harassments, death and rape threats, and trolling against Rappler, its editors and staff. The threats come from the President himself who, like any garden-variety tyrant, is allergic to journalists who don’t follow or, worse, question his chosen narrative,” LODI said in a statement.
“We call on our colleagues in the arts and media communities to expose and thwart any threat or act from the fascist Duterte regime to scare and terrorize us from defending democracy and promoting integrity. We must jealously guard what remains of our precious freedoms,” the group said.
The SEC en banc said Rappler violated constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming from Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar.
SEC voided the Omidyar Philippine Depositary Receipt (PDR) and revoked Rappler’s Certificate of Incorporation.
A PDR is a financial instrument that does not give the owner voting rights in the board or a say in the management or day-to-day operations of the company. Several large media companies have PDRs.
The SEC itself accepted the Omidyar-related documents submitted by Rappler in 2015.
In a statement addressed to its readers and viewers on Monday, Rappler said: “The SEC’s kill order revoking Rappler’s license to operate is the first of its kind in history – both for the Commission and for Philippine media.”
“What this means for you, and for us, is that the Commission is ordering us to close shop, to cease telling you stories, to stop speaking truth to power, and to let go of everything that we have built – and created – with you since 2012.” (READ Rappler’s statement: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)
Rappler, however, will continue to operate as it files the necessary motions for reconsideration with the courts. It will continue to defend and uphold the freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
The government has long targeted Rappler. The SEC investigation was ordered by the Office of the Solicitor General, which wrote the agency on December 14, 2016, to investigate Rappler over its PDRs.
The SEC created a “Special Panel” on July 8, 2017, to conduct a “formal, in-depth examination of Rappler Inc and its parent, Rappler Holdings Corporation, as to possible violations of nationality restrictions on ownership and/or control of Mass Media entities.”
A few weeks later, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte himself threatened to investigate the ownership of Rappler. The agency has long debunked the allegation. – Rappler.com