Tell it to SunStar: Crossroads in human conduct 101

THE home leads you to your family. The school leads you to your destination. The church leads you to your destiny. Your intellect leads you to know what is true and right and what is false and wrong. Your free will leads you to choose or decide to do or not to do what you know is right or what you know is wrong. Your freedom leads you to exercise your personal inherent right to do what is right, what is moral and what is legal in accordance with your nature, such as the freedom to live and the freedom to believe in God.

Freedom of the press or expression is your personal right to report or express only what you know is true and factual as essentially contra-distinguished from free will of the press or free will of expression, which is your personal choice or decision to report or to express either what you know is true and factual or what you know is false and fictitious, a personal choice between what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. A media man may have the free will to tell a lie and deceive the public, but he does not have the freedom to do it.--Amay P. Ong Vaño, Cebu City, epov111@yahoo.com

Remove restrictions on foreign equity

Last Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the registration of Rappler as a corporation arguing that Rappler’s issuance of Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs) to foreign investors violates the Anti-Dummy Law and Article XVI, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution which states that mass media companies must be 100 percent owned by Filipino individuals or corporations.

The no foreign equity provision on mass media in the 1987 constitution is clear: no foreign investments should be infused in any mass media companies registered in the Philippines because the provision itself doesn’t differentiate investing and owning according to the ol- fashioned business practices before the proliferation of stock investing or other instruments where you can invest money in certain companies without necessarily owning shares of those companies.

When the 1987 constitution was crafted, capital markets weren’t as developed and sophisticated as now and it was unthinkable then for mass media companies to operate like commercial conglomerates. Today, mass media companies need foreign capital for their expansion, like adopting digitalization, thus the provision prohibiting foreign equity in mass media, whether direct or indirect, reeks of anachronism.

However, the decision of the SEC was a full of abuse of discretion as it only singled out Rappler instead of pursuing other mass media companies like ABS-CBN and GMA, which are also issuing PDRs to foreign investors. We cannot allow the government to use legal technicalities to suppress dissent. We must cherish and protect press freedom regardless of our political viewpoints.--Joseph Solis Alcayde
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