MALACAÑANG said Friday it supports the Black Friday Protest by members of the media in Quezon City, which was triggered by the Security and Exchange Commission’s order revoking the license of online news agency Rappler.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque denied that the decision to revoke Rappler’s business registration was to suppress media freedom in the country.
In other developments:
• The National Bureau of Investigation said Rappler could still be liable for cybercrime even if a law it allegedly violated was not retroactive.
NBI Cybercrime Division Chief Manuel Antonio Eduarte said Wilfredo Keng’s cyber libel complaint against Rappler stemmed from an article posted in May 2012.
Rappler’s former investigative reporter, Reynaldo Santos Jr., wrote then that Keng allegedly lent his SUV to the late former chief justice Renato Corona, raising questions about ethics and propriety.
Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, was signed into law in September 2012.
• Rappler must face the consequences if it is guilty of violating a law, the Commission on Human Rights said Friday.
“If the statement of Rappler is true with regards to its ownership and control, as well as that due process was not observed, then this is indeed something that is deeply concerning in the context of press freedom. CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline de Guia said.
“However, if the ruling of the Securities Exchange Commission is upheld, Rappler must face the consequences as provided by law.”
But De Guia said the CHR was hoping that the SEC’s decision against Rappler was not an attempt to curtail press freedom.
• The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday rejected claims that its decision to cancel Rappler’s incorporation papers was politically motivated.
“You know, if they have proof that that’s the case, they better present it. It’s so unfair to us,” SEC Commissioner Teresita Herbosa told reporters.
“We’re only doing our job. We just come out with whatever the law requires us to do.”
Roque insisted that the SEC decision against Rappler was due to constitutional violations committed by the online media outlet, which was being operated and owned by a foreign company.
“The protest is proof that freedom and democracy are very much alive in the Philippines,” Roque said.
“The Palace position on the matter remains clear and consistent: We allow public displays of constructive criticism as part of the full exercise of the protesters’ right to express their grievances.”
Roque said the decision to revoke Rappler’s business registration was not intended to suppress media freedom in the country.
Earlier, Roque said Rappler reporters were not prevented from exercising their duty as journalists in the light of the SEC decision, saying the reporter of Rappler continued to attend Malacañang press briefings.
But Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, insists the SEC decision was politically motivated.
“It’s clear, it’s harassment and it has an end goal,” Ressa said.
“You can look at the decision itself and the Securities and Exchange Commission itself has said that the investigation was triggered by the government itself. So look at the actions. Words are cheap.”