SEC cancels Rappler’s license to do business

Photo via CNNPhilippines

via CNN Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is revoking news agency Rappler’s license to do business.

In a 29-page decision dated January 11, the SEC cancelled Rappler’s certificate of incorporation and referred its decision to the Department of Justice for “appropriate action.” The decision covers Rappler, Inc., the media entity, and Rappler Holdings Corp.

The SEC said the company was liable for violating SEC rules by engaging in a fraudulent transaction and circumventing constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership.

According to SEC, Rappler “intentionally created an elaborate scheme” to justify the receipt of over a $1 million from a foreign investor, Omidyar Network (ON). ON is an investment company owned by eBay auction site founder Pierre Omidyar.

It further said Rappler is a “mass media entity that sold control to foreigners,” and it undertook a “deceptive scheme to circumvent the Constitution.” The Constitution prohibits foreign ownership in media institutions.

Rappler has repeatedly said it is owned and managed by Filipinos. It was founded in 2012 by a team led by veteran journalist Maria Ressa.

The SEC decision was signed by Chairperson Teresita Herbosa, and Commissioners Antonieta Ibe, Ephyro Luis Amatong, and Emilio Aquino. The fourth commissioner, Blas James Viterbo, did not take part in the final ruling.

Rappler to go to court

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa announced in a media briefing on Monday they will question the decision in court.

“If warranted, we will even go to the Supreme Court… This is a press freedom case, because the decision was just so quick,” Rappler’s Investigative Desk head Chay Hofilena added.

In a post addressing its readers on Monday, Rappler decried the decision as “pure and simple harassment,” an attack on freedom of the press. It said the ruling was “first of its kind in history — both for the Commission and for Philippine media.”

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