Duterte: I was not behind Rappler shutdown order

Casey Dawson
January 17, 2018

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission said Rappler violated Philippine constitutional restrictions on mass media ownership, which require that media properties be locally owned and operated, by receiving funding from Omidyar Network, a USA -based philanthropic investment firm, news reports said.

"We intend to not only contest this through all legal processes available to us but also to fight for our freedom to do journalism", it said in a statement.

The SEC found that the PDRs' documentation had a provision that required Rappler's stockholders to get the approval of "2/3 of all issued and outstanding PDRs" for major corporate decisions. "But since you are a fake news outlet, then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake", Duterte said.

"We can debate now". "You bet on a horse - that doesn't mean you can tell the horse what to eat or who the jockey is or anything else, because all you have is the bet...."

Rappler denounced the SEC ruling as a "pure and simple harassment, the seeming coup de grace" following the "relentless and malicious attacks" against them.

Rights groups and media watchdogs have condemned the move as the latest salvo in a series of attacks on critical media. "Are you not critical of me?" "But after jailing political critics and threatening human rights activists, it appears that the President has now set his sights on muzzling the media", Santiago said.

Rappler denied the allegations.

Duterte himself has previously voiced disagreement with some action against his opponents, although he has stopped short of intervening to stop it.

Duterte, who has made no secret of his dislike of Rappler's reporting, told reporters in Manila that the news site had been "throwing trash and s**** all along", and that its stories were full of innuendo and "pregnant with falsity". "We will continue to hold power accountable and we will continue to tell the truth", Chay Hofilena, Rappler's acting managing editor, told reporters.

During his State of the Nation Address last July President Duterte alleged that Rappler was fully owned by Americans.

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According to Rappler, the two USA -based organizations that have invested in Rappler are Omidyar Network, which was created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, and North Base Media, a proponent of independent media.

"There are other avenues, such as starting a new media company".

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied on Monday the accusations that the Duterte administration has participated with the license revocation of the Philippine-based online site Rappler Inc.

"Hindi tootoo 'yan. Wala akong kinalaman diyan sa Rappler na 'yan ha", Roque quoted Duterte.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, a close Duterte ally who took the case to the SEC, applauded the outcome.

Many found it absurd that the government issued a statement celebrating the "robust" press freedom in the country on the same day when Rappler was ordered to cease operations. His office rejects that.

Rappler has rapidly gained a following after it launched in 2012 by former CNN Jakarta bureau chief and media executive Maria Ressa.

The license revocation story was covered by global media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Agence France Presse, The Jakarta Post, The Guardian (London) and Yahoo.

Under the scheme, "the investor would never own stock and would never receive dividends and he would never become an officer or director, but respondents would still be able to give him his money's worth in the form of negative control and cash contributions, all through a private contractual arrangement", it said.

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