The decision of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the license of Rappler is rather an attack against the equally protected and mandated freedom in the Constitution: the freedom of the press. This appears to be a harassment to an independent media critical in delivering factual information, unscathed of wicked interests.
The Malacañang Palace was quick to deny its hands from the SEC ruling. It could have been believable. SEC’s panel investigation was prompted by a request from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), under the office of the President. President Rodrigo Duterte, during his last State of the Nation Address, also called out Rappler for supposedly being “American ownership.” Rappler had been subject to online hate and harassment since it started a comprehensive coverage of the government’s war on drugs. It also earned ire from network of bloggers supporting the President.
This administration’s intolerance to independent and critical journalism is a grave threat to Philippine press, recognized as the fourth estate and watchdog against the corruption, injustices and misinformation not just in the government, but in the whole society. We have to stress that critical reporting, particularly reporting the government’s mismanagement and wrongdoings, is not destabilization. The act itself is destabilizing the government.
It is also ironic that the same government agency that permitted Rappler’s issuance of the Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to foreign investors would now say it is unconstitutional. With its remiss on the specific clause that supposedly granted the foreign investors “partial” control of Rappler’s operations, isn’t it too much as penalty to revoke its license? But we leave it to the court to determine if there were violations against the Constitution. We are sure is ready to face the legal battle.
Notably, Rappler had not been given due process and chance to explain its contention with that clause. Instead, SEC acted on the case in extreme prejudice. Rappler had made it clear, PDRs are not form of ownership nor a control of the company’s editorial and management operations, but only a form of investment. SEC clearly and questionably dismissed this fact and went on nitpicking a certain clause without hearing its true contention.
This is all why we stand with Rappler and other media organization facing harassment, purely for doing its job, to bring out the truth. We encourage the people and other groups to be watchful of any attempt to suppress the freedom of the press, and the power of the people to tell the uncompromising truth. Northernforum.net