Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II called on Rappler to actively participate in the investigation of the NBI to prove the innocence it claims to have.
AP/Aaron Favila
Aguirre tells Rappler: 'Welcome probe to prove innocence'
Gaea Katreena Cabico (philstar.com) - January 18, 2018 - 5:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — The investigation into Rappler’s possible violation of the Constitution and laws was not intended to kill press freedom, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Thursday.

Aguirre cried foul over the news site’s claim that the National Bureau of Investigation’s probe is a “fishing expedition, and pure and simple harassment.”

“The statement of Rappler is clearly unfounded and most unfair to the good men and women of the NBI and of the DOJ as a whole,” he said in a statement.

Aguirre added: “We want to emphasize that your DOJ respects freedom of the press. However, to borrow the words of the National Press Club, responsible journalism means compliance with the law.”

The justice chief on Wednesday ordered the NBI to conduct a case build-up against Rappler.

As the government’s prosecution arm, DOJ acted on the matter after receiving a communication from Securities and Exchange Commission, Aguirre stressed.

“When the Constitution or any law has been violated by Rappler, necessarily the DOJ will be involved in its investigation, otherwise the DOJ will be remiss in its duties,” he said

Aguirre called on Rappler to actively participate in the investigation of the NBI.

“Rappler should welcome this investigation so that it will have the chance to prove the innocence it claims to have,” he said.

On Monday, SEC revoked the registration of Rappler for allegedly violating constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming from Omidyar Network.

The investigation into issues on Rappler’s ownership was prompted by a letter from the Office of the Solicitor General in December 2016.

Rappler has contended that its funding from Omidyar Network, created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, is through Philippine Depositary Receipts. PDR is a “financial instrument that does not give the owner voting rights in the board or management of the company,” the news site said Monday.

News organizations both at home and abroad have also condemned closure order against Rappler, calling this a “blatant harassment” of the press.

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