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SEC upholds 2018 shutdown order on Rappler due to foreign ownership

By NICK GARCIA Published Jun 29, 2022 10:43 am

The Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC) upheld its 2018 order shutting down Rappler due to claims of foreign ownership, the online news organization announced on June 29.

In its official statement, Rappler said the SEC, through an order dated June 28, affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Commission.

"We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shutdown of Rappler," the statement read, adding that Rappler will appeal the decision "since the proceedings were highly irregular."

Hours before Rappler's official statement was published, its chief executive officer Maria Ressa announced the news at the East-West Center media conference in Hawaii, according to the event's Twitter update.

The SEC also confirmed issuing the shutdown order to Rappler, claiming anew that the news organization violated "constitutional and statutory restrictions of foreign ownership in mass media."

In 2018, the SEC claimed Rappler allowed Omidyar Network—an investment firm owned by Pierre Omidyar, a French-born Iranian-American who founded e-commerce company eBay—to hold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), financial instruments that foreign funds can buy into to raise funds globally. The 1987 Constitution states that the ownership and management of mass media "shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly owned and managed by such citizens."

Rappler has since maintained that PDRs don't constitute ownership, and that it's owned and managed by Filipinos. It filed a motion for reconsideration before the SEC in 2018, but the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the SEC ruling. In 2021, the commission maintained its position to shut down Rappler.

In an internal announcement based on the East-West Center tweet, Rappler told employees: “Clarity, agility, sobriety. Review our drills and the tasks assigned to you Meantime, it is business as usual for us. We will adapt, adjust, survive and thrive.”