Philippines revokes license of Rappler, news site critical of Duterte administration

Philippines: Attempts to shut down media outlet a blatant attack on free press

The independent news site, which was founded by Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa in 2012, has had its media registration revoked by the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged violations of foreign ownership.

A day after government regulators revoked the license of Rappler, a website that has criticized Duterte's government, the president confronted a Rappler journalist at a late-evening press forum and accused her publication of unfair reporting.

The publication was supported by media groups and politicians in the Philippines.

The case will soon reach the Court of Appeals, where Rappler said it plans to challenge the SEC decision in the next fortnight.

Mr Duterte also threatened to block leading television broadcaster ABS-CBN's application to renew its operating franchise, a permit that requires congressional approval, over what he saw was lopsided coverage of his campaign.

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Duterte said some oligarchs and rich families were using their media companies to wield power and influence and to shield themselves from prosecution.

Rappler has done extensive reporting on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and its campaign against illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead.

Roque also stressed that the SEC, which he called an independent body and one of most efficient agencies of government, had been looking into Rappler's compliance with the law even before the Office of the Solicitor General wrote it in December 2016 asking it to investigate Rappler over its Philippine Depositary Receipts.

The OSG called for the probe "for any possible contravention of the strict requirements of the 1987 Constitution" on the issuances of PDRs to NBN Rappler LP, a Washington DC-based investment firm, and Omidyar Network. "In this country, the issue is not press freedom".

Despite the Palace's insistence that it had nothing to do with the SEC decision and it along with its apologists would do all it can to persuade the public to believe otherwise, it need not distance itself from this development for the public to know the real score behind Rappler's plight.

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She said: "In social media, anyone who asks a question or questions extrajudicial killings; journalists, anyone, gets crippled and bashed".

Ana Santos, a Manila-based journalist whose work has been published on Rappler, however, said the decision shows a "2018 version" of martial law, which was declared by Ferdinand Marcos, former president, in 1972.

Truth is, the reporter of Rappler is still in our press briefing, she has not been prevented from exercising her profession as a journalist. "Will the certificate of incorporation of the others also be cancelled?" "The pattern suggests a policy of assaulting and weakening the press as an institution".

If it's not the SEC, then there are other instrumentalities like Congress, where the Duterte administration holds a super majority, that can silence and pressure media outlets into submission. "The artists who expose your bloody drug war?"

Cyber-world It needed a mass media outfit in the cyber-world: Rappler became its principal vehicle, funded, I was told, not really by its main stockholder on record who is property tycoon Benjamin Bitanga, but by a Spanish-Filipino oligarch known to be close to Ressa and to Aquino.

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With over 30 broadsheets and tabloids operation across the country, the Philippine is considered one of the freest democracies since a "People power" revolt toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders a year ago said the Philippines was fairly free and diverse, but risky for the media.

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