SEC move vs Rappler a ‘significant restriction’ on freedom of expression – ICJ

Jodesz Gavilan
In a statement, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) says it is concerned that the decision to target Rappler 'may have been retaliatory and politically motivated'

MANILA, Philippines – The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed concern over the possible impact of the decision by the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the registration of Rappler on freedom of expression in the country.

“The ICJ is concerned that the decision to target Rappler may have been retaliatory and politically motivated,” the group said in a statement on Thursday, January 18. 

The commission, which is made up of 60 distinguished judges and lawyers from all over the world, warned that the move by SEC and the government “constitutes a significant restriction on freedom of expression.” 

“If such restrictions on freedom of expression are enforced with the actual aim of punishing or preventing critical political expression, or are enforced only against some political or other opinions and not others, this would violate the rights to freedom of expression and non-discrimination under the Philippine Constitution and international human rights law,” it added. 

On January 15, SEC revoked the registration of Rappler, accusing the news outlet of violating the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law over its use of Philippine Depositary Receipt (PDR). A PDR, however, does not indicate ownership and does not provide its owner voting rights in the company’s board or a say in its day-to-day operations. (READ: FAQs: Rappler’s SEC case)

Rappler will be contesting the decision through all legal means, slamming the decision as harassment aimed at stifling press freedom in the Philippines. (READ: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s Senior International Legal Adviser, said that the courts “must give rigorous scrutiny both to the specific basis the authorities offer for the decision.” –

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.