SEC order meant to silence us, muzzle free expression – Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler Inc and Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) on Monday, January 29, filed their petition with the Court of Appeals, asking the Court to annul and set aside a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision which ordered the revocation of their certificates of incorporation.

In their 68-page petition, Rappler Inc and RHC also said they are relying on good faith in the statements from the SEC en banc that its decision is not final and executory and that Rappler can go on "business as usual."

Below is a copy of the petition submitted to the Court of Appeals:" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0.75" scrolling="no" id="doc_25172" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0">

Citing various legal arguments in their petition, Rappler Inc and RHC said they did not violate any prohibitions on foreign ownership.

Rappler and RHC, according to the petition, "reserve all their rights, including their right to apply for the issuance of a TRO and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction to prevent the SEC En Banc or any person or agency from implementing" its decision.

Below is Rappler Inc’s full statement:

We filed a petition on Monday, January 29, with the Court of Appeals seeking a reversal of the January 11, 2018 ruling of the SEC en banc which ordered the revocation of our certificate of incorporation. We maintain that we followed the law and did not violate any Constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership. 

Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) issued Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to Omidyar Network (ON), no different from the PDRs involving ABS-CBN and GMA-7, which were allowed by the SEC. The PDRs issued by RHC, the parent company of Rappler Inc, do not grant ON ownership, management, or control.

We cited in our petition the serious substantive irregularities in the SEC decision as well as the steps that the Commission skipped when it handled our case with undue haste. We cannot but conclude that the order's real purpose is to silence us and muzzle free expression. The revocation of the certificates of incorporation of both Rappler Inc and RHC has the same effect as an unconstitutional prior restraint on the exercise of the freedom of the press.

The Supreme Court has, in previous cases, affirmed the freedom of the press. In a February 2008 decision, for example, it said:

“[F]reedom of the press is crucial and so inextricably woven into the right to free speech and free expression, that any attempt to restrict it must be met with an examination so critical that only a danger that is clear and present would be allowed to curtail it.”

We seek the intervention of the Court to prevent a blatant disregard of this constitutionally guaranteed freedom.

We thank our fellow Filipinos for their continued vigilance in guarding this freedom.