The Philippine securities watchdog has ordered the shutdown of Rappler, the media website run by Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, in a move that will mark a further blow to independent journalism in the south-east Asian country.
The move came just two days before President Rodrigo Duterte, the most prominent critic of the outlet, was due to step down for incoming President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who is set to take office on Thursday. Rappler said it planned to appeal against the decision.
“In an order dated June 28, our Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificate of incorporation of Rappler Inc and Rappler Holdings Corporation,” the company said in a statement posted by Ressa, the outlet’s chief executive, on Wednesday morning. “We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shutdown of Rappler.
“We are entitled to appeal this decision and will do so, especially since the proceedings were highly irregular.”
In an order dated June 28, our Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc and Rappler Holdings Corporation. #HoldTheLine #CourageON
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) June 29, 2022
The Philippine SEC in January revoked Rappler’s licence for allegedly violating the constitution and the country’s anti-dummy law. The decision stemmed from a long-running case about the site’s issuing of Philippine Depositary Receipts, a security that allows foreigners to invest in Philippine companies without owning them, to foreign investor Omidyar Network. The country’s constitution bars foreign ownership of media.
The SEC opened a probe into Rappler in 2016, and the investigation was one of multiple criminal cases filed by Philippine authorities against the site, Ressa and other Rappler executives during the presidency of Duterte, who has eroded democratic checks and balances and moved the Philippines toward authoritarianism during his six years in office.
The Nobel Committee awarded its 2021 Peace Prize to Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, editor of Novaya Gazeta, for their work safeguarding freedom of expression.