SEC Revokes Rappler’s Incorporation Paper Months after Duterte’s Threat of Investigation


CMFR/PHILIPPINES — Months after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to investigate Rappler’s ownership, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the incorporation paper of the online news organization for allegedly violating the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law.

The SEC order signed 11 January 2018 said that Rappler violated the nationality restriction on ownership and control of mass media entity. Article XVI, Section 11 of the constitution states: “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.”

According to the SEC resolution, part of Rappler’s funds come from Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar as reflected in the Philippine Depositary Receipt (PDR) submitted by Rappler to SEC in 2015.

But Rappler explained in an article published January 15: “A PDR is a financial instrument that does not give the owner voting rights in the board or a say in the management or day-to-day operations of the company. Several large media companies have PDRs.” (“SEC revokes Rappler’s registration“)

The online news organization has issued a statement explaining the issue and asking readers to stand with them on this. (Read: Rappler’s Statement)

In 2017, Duterte accused Rappler of being fully owned by Americans. The president then threatened to investigate the ownership of the news organization in his 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Rappler has repeatedly denied the allegations and had written several pieces to debunk Duterte’s foreign ownership claim:

Speaking on the SEC decision, Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa said on a January 15 press conference, “[The decision] is political in nature. We will fight this.”

CMFR Chair Vergel Santos and Executive Director Melinda De Jesus have said in media interviews that they see this as a move by government to suppress and silence a critical press.