THE government's move to shut down news website Rappler has drawn criticisms from journalists and some congressmen.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the move is “one of the many threats President Rodrigo Duterte has made against media critical of him and his governance.”
“The NUJP declares its full support to Rappler and all other independent media outfits that the state has threatened and may threaten to shutdown,” the group said in a statement.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines also expressed support to Rappler, saying that SEC’s decision is tantamount to killing the online news site and sends a chilling effect to media organizations in the country.
Lawmakers from the so-called Makabayan bloc also slammed the SEC decision.
According to Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, the SEC's move is a sick affront on press freedom.
In his Twitter account, he joined those criticizing the government's move by using the hashtag #standwithrappler.
Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), whose representatives are Arlene Brosas and Emmi De Jesus, said it strongly condemns the SEC's move which they said constitutes one of the gravest attacks against press freedom.
"We are alarmed that the SEC has chosen to nitpick on Rappler’s alleged violation of the constitutional provision on foreign equity restrictions in order to shut down an entire media outfit, which has been openly criticized by President Duterte on several occasions," said Gabriela.
Gabriela said such move carries a political message that the government can stop reportage that is critical to the Duterte administration, "a hallmark of dictatorial rule," said Gabriela.
"We stand with journalists on this dark day as we continue to call on the women and people to frustrate Duterte’s ploy to install a dictatorship," the group added.
The SEC en banc, in a decision issued on January 11, found that Rappler Inc and its parent Rappler Holdings Corporation have violated the constitutionally mandated foreign equity restrictions in mass media. The 1987 Constitution provides that mass media should be 100 percent owned by Filipinos.
As administrative penalty, the SEC revoked the certificate of incorporation of both Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation.
The commission also declared as void the Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR) issued by Rappler Holdings to Omidyar Network Fund.
In his 2017 State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte accused Rappler of being foreign-owned and threatened to have Rappler's ownership investigated. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo and Keith Calayag/SunStar Philippines)