The Philippine news site Rappler has been ordered to close, but “we continue to work, it’s business as usual,” Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and co-founder of this medium. Ms. Ressa regularly and intensely criticizes President Rodrigo Duterte and his murderous “War on Drugs”, and her digital platform is the subject of lawsuits and numerous online threats.
The Philippine Securities Commission confirmed in a statement on Wednesday “the revocation of the certificates that enabled the creation” of Rappler. This measure is based on the fact that this media has violated “constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in the media”. This decision “confirms the closure” of the digital platform, according to Rappler, who intends to appeal this “very irregular” procedure.
“We’ve been discussing every possible scenario with Rappler [staff] since this commission issued its first order in 2018,” Glenda Gloria, the site’s editor and co-founder, told reporters. “Nothing sufficiently prepares an organism for such a killing.”
Multiple attacks from the presidency
Rappler has been struggling to survive since Mr. Duterte’s government accused him of tax evasion and breaking foreign ownership regulations in order to secure funding. The site has also been accused of violating a cybercrime law passed in 2012, the year Rappler was founded.
In the past, Mr. Duterte has called Rappler a “media peddler of false information” about an article about one of his closest aides. The news portal is accused of allowing outsiders to take over its website by issuing “certificates of deposit” through its parent company Rappler Holdings.
According to the Constitution, media investments are restricted to Filipinos or Filipino-controlled entities. In 2015, the site had issued bonds to raise funds, which had been subscribed, among others, by an American company, Omidyar Network, created by the founder of eBay Pierre Omidyar.
Ms. Ressa, who also has US citizenship, and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2021 for their efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression”.