MANILA, Philippines – Spreading lies by his own defenders, President Rodrigo Duterte falsely claimed on Thursday, October 12, that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States funds Rappler.
Contrary to Duterte's claims, Rappler is 100% Filipino-owned, and the CIA is not one of its funders. (READ: Debunking lies about Rappler)
Omidyar Network and North Base Media, groups composed of international journalists and investors, have invested in Rappler, but own no part of the company.
Omidyar Network is the fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam to help businesses use markets and technology for social impact. North Base Media is a fund for independent journalism founded by 3 prominent journalists: Marcus Brauchli, who headed the newsrooms of the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post; Sasa Vucinic, founder and former head of the Soros-backed Media Development Investment Fund; and Stuart Karle, former Reuters COO.
Rappler uses Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to allow foreign partners to have commercial interests. (READ: Of PDRs and 'foreign ownership' of PH media)
PDRs are financial tools that individuals or entities can use to have a stake in a company they believe in. Their involvement is limited to potential commercial benefits. They neither get voting rights on the Board nor have a say in the management or day-to-day operations of the company.
At the relaunching of the Malacañang Press Briefing Room on Thursday, however, Duterte claimed that Rappler and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) both receive funds from the CIA.
The President was speaking in the context of fears that there will be a "fissure" in Mindanao. He downplayed "politicking" in the face of this bigger problem.
"It's not the politicking dito (here). They will disappear overnight – CIA-funded na mga (organizations like) NED, Rappler, 'yung mga gano'n (all those things). And the Americans will realize to their sorrow that they have been too myopic in this thing," Duterte said.
It was Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao who wrote, in an article on October 9, that NED is funding the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and Vera Files.
Tiglao falsely claimed in the same article that Rappler is an "anti-Duterte media outfit."
Using his wrong premise, Duterte on Thursday continued: "The United States, you are funding Rappler and all of these. Go ahead and fund more so that we can always transfer. There's always China and Russia. What should we worry?"
Still addressing the US, Duterte said: "So you think you are the conscience of the people, that you are the right ones because you are the White? Excuse me, are we talking of a monkey here?"
"CIA, stop fucking. One day, I will just drive you away. It's either your cahoots here will have to kill me, or you have to get out of my country. Choose," the President said.
"Basta sabihin ko sa Pilipino, 'pag namatay ako, Amerikano 'yan, CIA na yan," he added. (I will just tell the Filipino, if I die, that's because of the Americans, that's because of the CIA.)
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.