Philippines SEC orders news publisher Rappler to shut down

Maria Ressa, Apart From Anything Else, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, CEO and Owner of News Organization Rapper in the Philippines, announced that the government had ordered him to shut down the business.

“The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission has upheld its earlier decision to revoke the news site’s operating license.

Former TIME Personality of the Year Maria Ressa said her team would appeal the decision.

“What does that mean? We have existing legal remedies up to the highest court in the land. It’s business as usual for us because, in our view, it’s not immediately enforceable without the court approval,” she wrote in a message to staff.

Rappler has been engulfed in public feuds with former President Duterte and a series of lawsuits due to the news site’s critical reporting.

Four years ago, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the registration of Rappler’s publications for “alleged violation of foreign ownership rules”. There was never any legal or public follow-up to the decision.

CNN reports that the Philippine SEC alleged that Rappler’s parent company “intentionally created an elaborate scheme” to hedge an investment from a foreign source.

Mass media companies in the Philippines are theoretically blocked from foreign ownership, although some media entities in the country have found elaborate workarounds to national media laws.

The Philippine SEC “confirmed and reiterated its earlier conclusion” that Rappler was a “mass media entity”.

“Considering the seriousness and seriousness of the offence, and that it is no less the constitution which has been violated, this commission thus finds and holds that the penalty of dismissal must be affirmed and maintained.”

President Duterte steps down tomorrow and hands over the position to incoming President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on June 30. Filipino media groups are urging young Marcos, the son of former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to “protect media freedom in the country”.

Yesterday Ressa noted that Rappler has been harassed on several occasions over the past six years and ‘our goal is to keep holding the line’.

In their own words… “Rappler comes from the root of the words “rap” (to chat) + “ripple” (to make waves). It was born into a new world of possibility, driven by uncompromising journalism, enabled by technology and enriched by communities of action.

“Through cutting-edge stories, conversations and collaboration, we aim to speak truth to power and build communities of action for a better world.”

Maria Ressa won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, for “her efforts to safeguard freedom of expression in the Philippines”. Ressa founded Rappler in 2012 and he has become well known and acclaimed for his steadfast coverage of President Duterte and his “War on Drugs”.