Amnesty International slams 'alarming attempt' to silence Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Amnesty International on Monday, January 15, called the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) move to revoke the registration of news organization Rappler "an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism."

James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said, "the government must immediately reverse this decision and end all efforts to stifle free press in the country."

Gomez added, "The Philippine government should focus on ending and investigating violations, mostly against poor communities, in the ‘war on drugs’, not trying to silence the messenger.”

The SEC said Rappler violated constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming from Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar. (READ Rappler's statement: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

SEC voided the Omidyar Philippine Depositary Receipt (PDR) and revoked Rappler's Certificate of Incorporation.

A PDR is a financial instrument that does not give the owner voting rights in the board or a say in the management or day-to-day operations of the company. Several large media companies have PDRs. 

The government has long targeted Rappler. The SEC investigation was ordered by the Office of the Solicitor General, which wrote the agency on December 14, 2016, to investigate Rappler over its PDRs.

The SEC created a "Special Panel" on July 8, 2017, to conduct a "formal, in-depth examination of Rappler Inc and its parent, Rappler Holdings Corporation, as to possible violations of nationality restrictions on ownership and/or control of Mass Media entities."

Journalist groups and members of the House opposition and Senate alike reacted against the SEC decision.

Rappler will continue to operate as it files the necessary motions for reconsideration with the courts. It will continue to defend and uphold the freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.Rappler.com