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Published: Thu, January 18, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Philippines revokes licence of leading news website Rappler

Philippines revokes licence of leading news website Rappler

Cardboard masks of President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Ronaldo dela Rosa are seen at a stall selling masks and horns ahead of New Year celebrations in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines, December 29, 2017.

Maria Ressa of Rappler Inc said the decision by the country's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was the result of political pressure and not because the company violated constitutional rules on foreign ownership.

"In this country the issue is not press freedom. Kaya lang po baka kailangan nilang kumuha ng accreditation as bloggers kasi they can not continue conducting their business as Rappler", Roque said in a news conference in La Union.

"[They are] existing for no other goal than to effect a deceptive scheme to circumvent the constitution", the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a Jan 11 ruling to revoke Rappler's certificates of incorporation. You have been throwing trash and shit all around but I just let you do that. We can debate now. "You can't tell the owner how to take care of the horse", she said.

Rappler, which has been critical of the government, described the SEC ruling as a "kill order" and denounced the actions of the Duterte government as "pure and simple harassment".

"Before you criticize others, look into the mirror. Are you not critical of me?"

Amnesty International has led a chorus of criticism after online news website Rappler was ordered to shut down.

The NBM co-founder wrote a letter in response to Tiglao, who sought his comment "on SEC's ruing (sic) that Rappler violated our Constitution's ban on foreign equity in a media firm".

Journalists work at the office of Rappler in Pasig, Metro Manila, January 15, 2018.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said today that Duterte was displeased with "unfair" accusations that the SEC ruling was part of a government move to undermine journalists' rights and press freedom, the reports said.

The group said the move against Rappler was one of many threats Duterte has made against media organizations critical of his policies.

This is not the first time that Duterte has warned media outlets.

The two US-based organisations that invested in Rappler are Omidyar Network, created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, and North Base Media, which advocates independent media and was founded by three prominent foreign journalists.

Rappler, however, says that while it is receiving investments from foreign funds, including the Omidyar Network, it is still a fully Filipino owned company.

Rappler, whose reporting has infuriated Duterte, said it would challenge the SEC decision which is not yet final.

In fact, the PDRs have been regularly used by Philippine entrepreneurs to raise much needed capital from overseas without violating strict constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership.

Among bases cited by the five-member commission, including four appointed by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, is a provision in the investment instrument used by Rappler to raise capital from overseas.

"It will be up to us, media and the citizenry, to work together to thwart the dark goals of the tyrant Duterte". His office rejects that.

"Rappler is a company dedicated - as Maria Ressa likes to say - to redefining journalism, keeping the soul and spirit of journalism, but adapting to technology-driven changes that have swept our world", Brauchli said in an earlier interview with Rappler.

Duterte has since previous year also publicly attacked other media outlets including the Philippine Daily Inquirer and leading television broadcaster ABS-CBN, whose application for a franchise renewal he threatened to block.

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