Philippines orders closure of Nobel Peace Prize winner’s newspaper

Rappler, the newspaper co-founded by Maria Ressa, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was ordered to close the day before President Duterte left office.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today confirmed it has “revoked the certificate of incorporation” of Rappler newspaper for violating “constitutional and legal provisions on foreign ownership in the information sector”. mass news”.

Maria Ressa was surrounded by the press when she learned that she had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, 2021.  Photo: AP

Maria Ressa was surrounded by the press when she learned that she had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, 2021. Image: AP

Rappler said the decision “confirms the company’s closure” and vowed to appeal because the process was “very irregular”. The decision comes a day before President Rodrigo Duterte leaves office.

“We have discussed every possible scenario with Rapplers employees since the SEC issued its first order in 2018,” said Glenda Gloria, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the site, with award winner Maria Ressa. Nobel Peace Prize 2021, said.

“We are continuing to work as usual,” Ressa said, adding that the newspaper “can only hope for the best” when Duterte’s successor, new President Ferdinan Marcos, takes office.

The newspaper had to fight for survival when the Duterte administration accused it of violating the constitutional provisions on foreign property rights as well as tax evasion. The newspaper was also charged with cyber defamation under a criminal law enacted in 2012, the year Rappler was founded.

Mr Duterte has publicly criticized Rappler, calling it a “fake news site”. Meanwhile, the newspaper repeatedly criticized Mr. Duterte and the war on drugs he launched in 2016.

Rappler is accused of allowing foreigners to take control through the issuance of a “custodial certificate” of the parent company Rappler Holdings. Under the constitution, only Filipinos or Filipino-controlled entities are allowed to invest in the media sector in the country.

Employees enter the Rappler office in Pasig City, on the outskirts of Manila, on June 29.  Anh: AFP

Employees enter the Rappler office in Pasig City, on the outskirts of Manila, on June 29. Anh: AFP

The trouble started with Omidyar Network’s 2015 investment in Rappler, the US-based company founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar then transferred the investment in Rappler to local regulators, in an attempt to prevent the Duterte administration from shutting down the newspaper.

Ms. Ressa, who holds dual Philippine and US citizenship, and Russian journalist Dimtry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October last year for their efforts to “defend the right to freedom of expression”.

She is facing at least seven trials, including an online defamation appeal, for which Ressa is out on bail and risks six years in prison. The Center for International Journalists (ICJ) has called on the Philippine government to reverse its decision to shut down Rappler.

Hong Hanh (Theo AFP)

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