CA junks Rappler plea to reverse SEC ruling
Employees of Rappler, an online news outfit known for its critical reporting on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, work inside their office in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.
AP/Aaron Favila, File

CA junks Rappler plea to reverse SEC ruling

( - July 27, 2018 - 9:16am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:05 p.m.) — The Court of Appeals (CA) denied the petition of online news site Rappler to reverse the ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke its business registration.

In January, the SEC revoked the license of Rappler for allegedly violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Qeuity Restriction in Mass Media.

In its 72-page ruling issued Thursday, the apellate court noted that the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR), a financial instrument allowing foreigners to invest in a Filipino company without owning any part of it, is not illegal.

The court acknowledged the earlier statement of Rappler that other Filipino corporations such as ABS-CBN, GMA and Globe have issued PDRs in the past and were allowed by the SEC.

The court indicated that one of the grounds for the rejection was: "That the purpose of the corporation are patently unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, or contrary to government rules and regulations."

RELATED: Filipino journalists rally to defend press freedom

The apellate court also found that the treasurer's affidavit on the amlount of capital stock subscribed and paid was false.

"That the percentage of ownership of the capital stock to be owned by citizens of the Philippines has not been complied with as required by existing laws of the Constitution," the ruling read.

The CA also ordered the SEC to evaluate the legal effect of the alleged donation of Omidyar Network of all its PDRs to Rappler staff.

"Accordingly, this case is hereby remanded to the Securities and Exchange Commission for this purpose," the court said.

In its ruling, the apellate court noted that the reply of Rappler stating that Omidyar has donated all its PDR to the news site's staff was a new development not presented to the SEC.

Meanwhile, Rappler has not yet received a copy of the decision, according to its legal counsel Francis Lim.

"We have not yet received a copy of the decision but we will surely not take the decision sitting down and will take all legal actions necessary to have the issue finally resolved by the Supreme Court," Lim said, as reported by Rappler.

The order of the CA to the SEC to conduct further evaluation on the legal implications of the donation of PDRs to Rappler staff means that it would be "business as usual" for the online news site.

"What this means is that the SEC decision cannot be enforced or implemented until the issue is finally decided," the Rappler counsel said.

United Nations human rights experts had raised alarm over the SEC's move to revoke Rappler's license.

UN special rapporteurs said that the move "comes at a time of rising rhetoric against independent voices" in the Philippines.

“We urge the government to return to its path of protection and promotion of independent media, especially those covering issues in the public interest," UN special rapporteurs said in a joint statement in January. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 15, 2020 - 9:21am

Palace answers questions on barring of Rappler reporter Pia Ranada from entering Malacañan New Executive Building to cover. It was later clarified that Ranada is allowed to enter the New Executive Building but not Malacañan, where the president's events are held.

June 15, 2020 - 9:21am

Manila court convicts Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and ex-researcher Reynaldo Santos of cyber libel. 

The court orders them to pay P200,000 for moral damages and P200,000 for exemplary damages.

Ressa and Santos are sentenced to imprisonment of six months and one day to up to six years. Rappler says they are posting bail. — report from Kristine Joy Patag

June 14, 2020 - 1:50pm

"As we await the decision on the cyber libel charges against Maria Ressa, Reynaldo Santos Jr. and Rappler, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines holds fast to the hope that the court will see this case for what it is, part of this vindictive government's ruthless campaign to silence or intimidate independent and critical Philippine media," the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines says in a statement.

"We have seen how the State and its agencies twisted the application of an already bad law into one more weapon in the legal arsenal it has brought to bear against Rappler, not to mention the misbegotten ban on coverage by a chief executive whose personal whims hold more weight than the public interest," it also says.

"On Monday, we, together with all those who treasure our rights and liberties, will be watching and waiting, hoping judicial independence and wisdom will set things right," NUJP also says.

October 14, 2019 - 4:35pm

Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 159 remands, or sends back, the case of violations of the Securities and Regulation Code filed against Rappler and its executives for preliminary investigation.

It says there was "undue haste in [the] transmittal of records of the case." — Joy Patag

September 26, 2019 - 1:52pm

The Office of the Solicitor General says it has answered a petition at the Supreme Court filed by Rappler reporter Pia Ranada and others questioning an order to bar Rappler journalists from covering President Rodrigo Duterte's events.

The OSG says Ranada's media accreditaton has lapsed and that the Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked Rappler's certificate of incorporation.

"Under the [International Press Center] and [Media Accreditation and Relations Office] accreditation rules, a legitimate media entity must be accredited in order to cover the President."

"Even the Malacañang Press Corps By-laws require, among others, that to be a member of the MPC, it must be duly-recognized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office as a bona fide media organization, duly-accredited by the IPC and duly-registered at the SEC."

The OSG adds that despite the ban, Rappler has access to Palace press releases and briefings and can ask questions through SMS.

August 14, 2019 - 12:04pm

The Supreme Court orders the Office of the President, Office of the Executive Secretary, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Media Accreditation Registration Office and the Presidential Security Group to comment on petitions questioning the banning of Rappler reporters and correspondents from Malacañang and from other events where President Rodrigo Duterte will be.

The petitions were filed by Rappler staff as well as by supporters from civil society and by colleagues in the media.

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