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SEC has upheld order to shut down Rappler, says Ressa

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SEC has upheld order to shut down Rappler, says Ressa
An employee (L) of online portal Rappler heads out from their editorial office in Manila on Jan. 15, 2018, while a private security guard stands. The Philippine government has revoked the operating licence of leading news website Rappler, officials said Jan. 15, 2018 in a ruling denounced by President Rodrigo Duterte's critics as another blow to press freedom.
AFP / Ted Aljibe. file

MANILA, Philippines (Second update 8:55 a.m.) — The Securities and Exchange Commission has upheld its 2018 decision to order the shutdown of news company Rappler Inc, its CEO and veteran journalist Maria Ressa said.

In a statement made at the East West Center conference, Ressa said the SEC “affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC).”

“We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shut down of Rappler,” she added.

The order is dated June 28, but a copy of it has yet to be made public. 

Ressa, who was speaking at the conference said they will appeal the decision, especially that the “proceedings were highly irregular.”

The EWC, which is holding its conference abroad, shared Rappler’s statement on its Twitter account. Rappler meanwhile has yet to release its statement to Philippine media.

In a statement, the SEC said the latest order against the company "merely puts in effect its earlier decision and those of the Court of Appeals."

"The contentions raised by Rappler and RHC have been squarely and adequately addressed by the SEC and the CA in their respective decisions, resolutions and orders, including the latest issuance from the Commission," corporate regulators said in a statement.

‘Business as usual’

The case stemmed from the SEC’s order to cancel the certificate of incorporation of the online news site's operator and Omidyar Network's PDR — a financial instrument that gives foreign investors passive economic interest in a Philippine company — in January 2018. The regulatory body held that the company allegedly violated the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restriction in Mass Media.

Rappler appealed the SEC ruling before the Court of Appeals, which ordered the regulatory body to look into the effects of Omidyar’s donation. Omidyar is a "philanthropic investment firm" founded by French-born Iranian-American billionaire Pierre Omidyar.

But, according to their lawyer Francis Lim’s update in November 2021, the SEC "submitted a report to the Court of Appeals saying it [donation] has no effect without giving us the opportunity to comment on the effect." The report was without comment from Rappler.

Lim said they also filed an appeal before the SEC panel on its report.

"It depends on how the [CA] views the SEC decision upholding the revocation, whether it’s already final and therefore cannot be revisited by the same division of the Court of Appeals," Lim said then.

Ressa, however, said it will be “business as usual at Rappler since in our view, this is not immediately executory without court approval.”

Rappler continues to operate the news site as of this story’s posting.

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This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

MARIA RESSA

PRESS FREEDOM

RAPPLER

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