It grabbed headlines last January 15, the SEC has come out with a ruling revoking Rapper’s Certificate of Incorporation for allegedly violating the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership and control of mass media entities in the Philippines. The alleged violation is its issuance of PDR or Philippine Depository Receipts to Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
While other media entities in the Philippines have also used PDRs to receive investments from foreign entities, what makes Rappler’s case stand out is the following:
In the run up to the SEC decision, Rappler has already been at the receiving end of attacks from the Duterte administration for its critical reporting, with no less than President Duterte himself calling the news outfit a source of fake news while the President’s closest allies have repeatedly labeled Rappler as a propaganda machine for the Liberal Party. The Duterte Administration, just like the President himself, has not taken criticisms all too well. Threatening the imposition of martial law, filing of cases and even downright violence against media personalities critical of the government.
And so while the SEC’s decision does raise the legitimate issue that Rappler’s PDR arrangements with Omidyar Network may have run afoul of Constitutional limits – which also means other media entities using the same financial instrument for foreign funding might also be needed to be scrutinized, the SEC’s decision to revoke Rappler’s Certificate of Incorporation outright, effectively shutting it down, is a textbook case of government attack on press freedom and free speech for both are fundamental Constitutional rights.
And whenever our fundamental Constitutional rights are under threat from the government, one must not simply sit idle and watch from the sidelines.
So I join my fellow bloggers and citizens in responding to this threat, initially with the collective statement below:
Bloggers for Freedom
We concerned Filipino bloggers stand for the rights to free expression and to free speech. And our first responsibility is to protect these rights.
We thus stand with Rappler, its right to exist, the rights of its working journalists and contributors, and the rights of its community of readers.
We stand against moves to silence and scare journalists, bloggers and media practitioners just because the President and his ardent supporters dislike their news and views.
Now is a time for making choices amid battles between truth and lies, debate and dissonance, democracy and dictatorship.
We sign our names here to tell everyone we have made a choice. We are bloggers for freedom.
Myk Mykapalaran Cruz
Jeman Bunyi Villanueva
James Romer V. Velina
Mc Richard Viana Paglicawan
Saul de Jesus
Mark Will Mayo Magallanes
Rhadem Camlian Morados
Czarina Maye Noche
John Clifford Sibayan
Inday Espina Varona
Eugene Alvin Villar
Reynaldo Pagsolingan Jr.
Renz Daniel de Vera
Published on January 19, 2018, Black Friday
You can join us, sign the statement here then post it on your blog or social media channel. Include the hashtags below. Better yet, join us at Boys’ Scout Circle, Timog/Morato Quezon City at 6PM and together let us stand for and defend press freedom.