MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang said Rappler is free to contest the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision to revoke its license to operate.
In a statement sent to reporters on Monday, January 15, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the justice process provides Rappler with different avenues to question the SEC decision until it becomes final and executory.
“Rappler may wish to exhaust all available legal remedies until the decision becomes final,” said Roque, himself a lawyer who has defended journalists.
Malacañang said it respects the SEC decision, given the agency’s mandate to ensure the legality of corporations registered under it.
“We respect the SEC decision that Rappler contravenes the strict requirements of the law that the ownership and the management of mass media entities must be wholly-owned by Filipinos,” said Roque.
After the SEC’s move was condemned by senators, journalists, and netizens as an assault on press freedom, Roque issued another statement.
“The issue at hand is the compliance of 100% Filipino ownership and management of mass media. It is not about infringement on the freedom of the press. No one is above the law. Rappler has to comply,” he said.
The SEC said Rappler violated provisions of the 1987 Constitution that limit media ownership to Filipino citizens, a charge President Rodrigo Duterte himself made during his second State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2017.
In a decision dated January 11, 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. Several large media companies have PDRs.
The SEC itself accepted the Omidyar-related documents submitted by Rappler in 2015.
“Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) do not indicate ownership. This means our foreign investors, Omidyar Network and North Base Media, do not own Rappler. They invest, but they don’t own. Rappler remains 100% Filipino-owned,” Rappler said in a statement after Duterte’s SONA.
Despite the decision, Rappler will continue to operate as it files the necessary motions for reconsideration with the courts. It will continue to defend and uphold the freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by the Constitution. – Rappler.com