Rappler says Omidyar donation not admission of guilt

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler refuted the claim of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that Omidyar Network's donation of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) is an "admission" that it violated the Constitution.

"Rappler has maintained that the government-recognized Philippine Depositary Receipts it issued to Omidyar did not go against the constitutional requirement of Filipino ownership of media entities," said the news company in a statement.

Omidyar had said it decided to make the donation to help Rappler, given how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had zeroed in on a provision of the PDR it thought gives control of the company to foreigners.

Omidyar called the SEC decision "unwarranted" but felt the donation would help Rappler with its predicament. (READ: Leave Rappler unhindered, lawyer says after Omidyar donation)

Roque, on Thursday, March 1, claimed Omidyar's donation proves Rappler violated the constitutional provisions on foreign ownership of media companies.

"I think they acknolwedge that their PDR contravenes the Constitution and our existing laws.... That's an admission and we're happy they admitted because now we can say that even Rappler now admits they're not victims of censorship, they're not victims of infringement of press freedom," said Roque.

Rappler, however, maintains that the SEC ruling and the ban on Rappler coverage of Malacañang are attacks on press freedom.

Roque said he does not think the Omidyar donation will change the SEC ruling but that the Court of Appeals (CA) can consider it.

"If at all, it is the CA that can consider it but as far as I know, no change in circumstance could affect an issue already brought to court unless it will render it moot," said Roque. – Rappler.com 

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.