I tend to see a lot of people online showing their support for press freedom and then following it with some random statement in support with Rappler. Sure, I don’t think there is anything wrong with supporting press freedom. We don’t want another flawed type of Marcos dictatorship in the country again, do we?
Some staunch supporters of president Rodrigo Duterte probably hates me right now because I support this press freedom campaign and idea but I assume they only hate the idea of it because they think it’s mainly to support Rappler after SEC sued them regarding their alleged violation of the constituitional and statutory Foreign Equity Restriction in Mass Media enforceable through rules and laws within the mandate of the Commission.
Sorry I had to copy paste that part but in a less lawyer definition, it means that a mass media such as Rappler, by the constituition, isn’t allowed to be funded by a foreign company or to give commission or owe a foreign body. The mass media should 100% be owned by a Filipino. However, according to an investigation of the SEC, (which I don’t think was detailed out on public yet) Rappler was partly owned by this foreign company called Omidyar Network leading the government body to revoke Rappler’s license to operate. This has also been the basis of SEC’s order to investigate on Rappler’s Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) for further proofs.
What is a PDR even? A PDR is an investment in a local company where the holder has the right to earn without having an equity stake.
The first time I heard about this issue, I’m in favor of the idea of giving Rappler a chance to prove themselves and that they didn’t violate any law as to what SEC is accusing them of. I was also further in favor of Rappler when the breaking news appeared saying that Rappler’s license to operate gets revoked by the SEC after this unexpected investigation. As an initial reaction, I thought “Why aren’t there any warning? Why did they just jump into the worst punishment of closing and revocation of license instead of giving a warning?”
I was on Rappler’s side for a moment but after reading more articles and seeing the way they respond to this issue, I started to change my mind.
One. In a blink, the rebuttal of Rappler to this news was “It was a politically motivated.” I was hoping for a rebuttal proving that you didn’t violate the law but instead, you chose to point that out first. Two. Rappler immediately launched campaigns about press freedom, anti dictatorship and similar issues — sure, we are all up for all of that but what is the sudden calling out for? To favor you? To earn support? If you didn’t violate anything then you don’t have to work on gathering supporters anymore; all you have to do is prove that the accusers are wrong. Three. All other press and media freely operate, what do you actually mean with the #PressFreedom hashtag? Four. You said SEC is unreliable and bias to the government. Let me just point out that SEC is a regulating body of all the largest firms and companies in the Philippines, you can’t say that they are unreliable just because you had an issue with their scheme. Also, the officers in position on that government body were appointed by former President Aquino, do you really expect them to favor the current admin instead of being neutral? Try harder with the propaganda.
I’ll say it again. I am for press freedom but let me lay this short letter for Rappler.
Just because your licensed got revoked by the SEC doesn’t mean that the freedom of the press are being oppressed already. It’s just YOUR COMPANY and that is not because the government doesn’t like you but because YOU VIOLATED THE LAW. If you really didn’t defy any rule then prove it instead of whining and discrediting the administration and the SEC like it’s wrong for them to confront violators like your firm.
Just recently, Omidyar Network donated P78 million ($1.5 million) to Rappler in form of PDR. Why would they do that in such sudden time? What’s the purpose of that?
It just pushes me to lean to the opposite side as it gives me doubts to their press firm. Once again, I am for the press freedom but don’t make this about Rappler. They have their right to fight against the SEC and prove them wrong about this foreign investment violation, I give them that but for now, I don’t think there is any oppression of the mass media as all press firms can still freely broadcast and Rappler can still actually operate (right?).
With this said, I don’t mean that we should be oblivious of things. I think we should still be wary but just because Rappler is struggling right now doesn’t mean there is media oppression already. Just think about the fact that they allegedly disobeyed the law and they just have to face the confrontation now, plus, SEC wouldn’t serve an order if the evidences and case doesn’t have any strong grounds.
I trust the justice system with regards to this issue. If Rappler proves themselves innocent then that’s good, if not, they have to be ready for the consequences that awaits for them.
CNN PHILIPPINES: Rappler foreign investor’s move an ‘admission’ of Constitution violation
INQUIRER: SEC orders Rappler to shut down
ABS-CBN NEWS: Omidyar donation ‘an admission’ of Rappler’s violation
CNN PHILIPPINES: Omidyar Network donates investment to Rappler’s Filipino managers