The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has revoked the registration of news organisation Rappler for allegedly violating the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law, a move the online site is decrying as a blow to press freedom.
The SEC claimed that 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.
"The En Banc finds Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation, a Mass Media Entity and its alter ego, liable for violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restriction in Mass Media, enforceable through laws and rules within the mandate of the commission," the SEC en banc said of its decision, published on its website Monday, January 15.
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.
In response, the news organisation has set up a 'Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom' page which stated that it continue reporting news, holding the powerful to account for their actions and decisions, calling attention to government lapses that further disempower the disadvantaged.
Rappler has long accused the Philippines government and President Rodrigo Duterte of targeting them because of its criticism of the government in its articles. In an interview with Bloomberg in December 2017, Rappler’s founder Maria Ressa spoke at length about how the government is making use of social media like Facebook against the country’s press.