MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, January 16, denied influencing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into revoking the certificate of incorporation of online news site Rappler.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. stressed the administration could not, in any way, control the SEC in making decisions since its chairman and commissioners, except one, are all appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III.
"So our administration has nothing to do with it," Roque said in an interview with state-owned dzRB.
"We do not know what's happening in the SEC and we don't know that Rappler really gained profit from foreigners," the presidential spokesperson added.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, in a press conference held Monday, January 15, decried the government's alleged harassment following the SEC's order to shut down its operation.
The corporate regulator, in a decision dated January 11, said the en banc found Rappler accountable for violating the constitutionally mandated foreign equity restriction in mass media.
Ressa, however, deemed the ruling as a "kind of harassment" of the Duterte administration against journalists.
"I guess this is the last part of the kind of harassment that journalists have had in the last year or so. In Rappler, it began a year and a half ago," she said.
"We stand tall. We stand firm. It's good. This is a moment we say we stand for press freedom," she added.
Roque disputed Rappler's claim that the government was trying to suppress press freedom, saying that it was "farthest from the truth."
He added that journalists from Rappler can still practice their profession as the SEC merely ordered the closure of the news website.
"When they said it's a violation of press freedom, that's farthest from the thruth because we don't have control over SEC," Roque said.
"And there's no violation of press freedom because Maria Ressa and other journalists there (in Rappler) can still be journalists. What's not allowed is Rappler (to operate) because it is controlled by foreigners," he added. (SunStar Philippines)