MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte, a longtime foe of the Philippine news site co-founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, has ordered to shut it down, the firm announced on Wednesday (Jun 29).
Duterte and the allegedly murderous drug campaign he unleashed in 2016 have drawn Ressa’s ire, and she and Rappler have been subjected to a slew of legal proceedings, investigations, and online threats since she began speaking out.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines (SEC) has struck again (SEC).
Rappler’s “certificates of incorporation” were revoked for breaking “constitutional and statutory prohibitions on foreign ownership in mass media,” according to a statement released on Wednesday.
After the verdict was announced, Rappler said that it “essentially confirmed” the company’s shutdown and that it would appeal, calling the processes “very unusual.”
The executive editor and co-founder of the site, Glenda Gloria, told reporters that Rappler had discussed “all possible eventualities” with its workers since the SEC issued its initial order in 2018.
A “kill” command can never be adequately prepared for, as the saying goes, “nothing ever.”
Due to a constitutional ban on foreign ownership and tax avoidance by Duterte’s regime, Rappler has had to fight for its survival.
Rappler was created in 2012, the same year that a new criminal statute against online libel went into effect.
Over a story regarding one of his most trusted lieutenants, Duterte called the website “fake news” and referred to it as such by name.
Through its parent Rappler Holdings issuing “depositary receipts,” the news portal is accused of allowing outsiders to take over its website.
Investment in the media is reserved for Filipinos or Filipino-owned businesses under the constitution.
From the Omidyar Network, which was founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, springs the case in 2015.
Rappler’s money was then shifted to the local administrators by Omidyar to thwart Duterte’s attempts at shutting it down.
“Freedom of expression” was the theme of the Nobel Peace Prize granted to Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov in October.
An appeal against her conviction for cyber-libel carries a maximum sentence of six years. Ressa is currently on bail and faces up to six years in prison.
It has been requested that the Philippine government reverse its decision to shut down Rappler by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
“Rappler’s time, money, and energy are being wasted as a result of this legal harassment. It makes it possible for internet violence to continue unabated and proliferate in order to discourage independent reporting,” a message on Twitter, the International Crisis Group (ICFJ) said.
It was announced on Thursday that Duterte’s successor will be the son of the country’s former dictator, who presided over horrific human rights violations and corruption.
It is feared by human rights and free speech advocates that Marcos Jr.’s presidency will have a negative impact on these issues.