Philippines shut down Nobel laureate Ressa’s news site Rappler...

Philippines shut down Nobel laureate Ressa’s news site Rappler

 International Desk

 Published: 07:43 PM, 29 June 2022  

Maria Ressa; Photo: Collected

Maria Ressa; Photo: Collected

The Philippine government has ordered the shut down of Rappler, an investigative media outlet founded by Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa.

Rappler is one of the few media outlets in the country that has dared to criticize President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

The order came just days before Duterte handed over power to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Bongbong, according to a BBC report. 

The Rappler said they would not close their office but would go to court against the government’s order. Even four years ago, the country’s regulatory body ordered the shut down of the media.

The move comes as Marcos Jr., the son of the country’s former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and an ally of Duterte, won the presidency last May.

“We will continue to work. We will follow the legal process and fight for rights. We will hold our ground,” Maria Ressa told reporters on Wednesday. 

In her words, the way in which the order was given did not follow the rules. Their media can no longer rely on the state’s “rule of law”.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement that the court ruled that the way the Rappler had raised funds was “unconstitutional”. The decision to take away Rappler’s license is still valid.

According to the BBC, the order was first issued in 2018 declaring the license of the Rappler invalid. The reason given was that the media had sold its rights to a foreign entity, resulting in a violation of foreign ownership restrictions in the Philippine media.

Rappler has been fighting ever since. They have denied violating Philippine law on financing U.S. investors.

In 2015, Rappler received funding from the Omidyar Network. The network is a philanthropic investment firm founded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Three years later, they donated the money to Rappler’s Filipino staff to show that they had no control over the media business.

Maria Ressa said Wednesday that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s order came in response to the investigative reporting of the Rappler. This is the latest blow to Rappler in the last six years.

“We are being harassed. These are political tactics. We don’t want to bow to them,” Ressa added.

Rappler has raised the issue of extrajudicial killings in President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. At the same time, the media has criticized the government for human rights violations and corruption.

Maria Ressa founded the news site in 2012 as a co-founder. She has faced at least seven criminal and civil cases, which she has described as “political”.

She appealed when Ressa was convicted in 2020 on defamation charges. The case is being seen in the international arena as a test of Philippine media freedom.

Maria Ressa won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.