“Rappler can continue with its activities as usual, because the SEC closure order is not final and executory because Ressa and Rappler have the right to appeal the closure order of the SEC.”
The outcry of left-leaning members of Congress, particularly by Leni Robredo appointed opposition leader Senator Risa Hontiveros and lamentably by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) against the closure of Rappler media group for alleged violation of Article XVI Section 11 of the Constitution springs from utter ignorance of the mandate that mass media ownership should be 100 percent owned by Filipinos.
Actually, the closure order was based on the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) way back which found that Rappler violated the law on 100 percent ownership by Filipinos in mass media, when the so-called PDRs or Philippine Depository Receipts given to foreigners when they want to invest in mass media, blatantly violated the Constitution.
An American firm, Omidyar, with alleged connections to the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had donated to Rappler to continue with its operations in the Philippines.
According to the SEC closure order on Rappler, the firm breached the mandate of the Constitution in which the SEC found the PDRs to have control of Rapper operations.
The SEC found that in 2015 the Omidyar had some control granted by the PDRs since they required the Filipino stockholders of Rappler to seek the approval of Omidyar on fundamental corporate matters.
The SEC found this blatant violation of the Constitution on 100 percent ownership by Filipinos on mass media ownership and showed that fundamental matters on Rappler’s activities must be referred to Omidyar, founded by Pierre Omidyar in 2015, and, worse, had connections with the CIA.
To cure this blatant violation of the Constitution, Omidyar “donated” the funds to Rappler, which the SEC found that Rappler was really American controlled.
In 2018, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order on Rappler, but then Rappler appealed the case to the Court of Appeals, which in turn upheld the SEC order and remanded to the SEC for final decision.
Predictably, Rappler thru its CEO Maria Ressa arrogantly says that Rappler will continue operation and will appeal to the Court of Appeals, and all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Thinking that Filipinos were ignorant of the law, lamentably some media groups, like the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, have joined the outcry of the closure of Rappler as an assault on press freedom.
Assault on press freedom, my foot! Santa banana, Rappler blatantly violated the mandate of the Constitution and the case had nothing to do with press freedom.
(The closure of ABS-CBN was another case because the House of Representatives did not renew its 25-year franchise. The House found many violations of the ANS-CBN franchise.)
Predictably, the Left and some sectors of the media defended Maria Ressa’s allegations for suppression by then-President Duterte. As a journalist myself, I did not notice any suppression at that time of press freedom.
What I’m saying here is that the law is the law and no matter how it hurts, it must be observed.
In the case of Senator Hontiveros, now that Leni Robredo had handed down to her the opposition leadership, she seems to parrot Robredo’s charges against the Duterte administration: charges against violation of human rights and press freedom.
My gulay,I am afraid Risa is beginning to sound like Robredo herself, always commenting on something she doesn’t know.
With due respect to the senator—lest she does not seem to realize—she should not comment on everything an administration does.
Maria Ressa and her lawyers have made conflicting statements about the P500 million investments of the Omidyar Network to Rappler.
When the Court of Appeals and the SEC said the PDRs are illegal, Ressa and Rappler had no legal basis to use the PDRs. Ressa then said they will continue operations.
If I seem to be so much against Ressa and Rappler, I am, for one big reason.
With Ressa being on the cover of Time Magazine as a defender of press freedom in the Philippines, and with her winning the Nobel Peace Prize with the P570,0000 prize, it would seem that Ressa is the only journalist in the Philippines who is fighting for press freedom against an authoritarianism and tyranny, and that all other Filipino journalists like me, with my 74 years in journalism, are not doing anything.
It would seem Ressa is accusing the Philippine press of not doing anything to protect press freedom, that only Ressa and Rappler had the courage to comment against alleged suppression and alleged assault on press freedom.
My gulay, it would seem that only Ressa and Rappler are the crusaders against these.
I would suggest that some enterprising and true-blooded journalists from the West should dig deep into the background of Ressa and Rappler and expose them for what they really are, that Ressa, who is more American than Filipino, is truly not what she claims to be.
She is after American interests. And just how Ressa and Rappler look at Filipinos and our laws and Filipino journalists, comes her arrogant statements that Rappler will continue as usual despite the closure order of the SEC.
Yes, Rappler can continue with its activities as usual, because the SEC closure order is not final and executory because Ressa and Rappler have the right to appeal the closure order of the SEC.
But, that’s how it is with Ressa, after so much accolades given her for allegedly fighting for press freedom in the Philippines, which, as anybody can see, continues to exist in the country.
There is no suppression of press freedom.
You may accuse me for being biased and prejudiced against Ressa. I am, since I am a Filipino and a journalist who is after the truth.
• • •
As of this column writing on Sunday, President Marcos has not yet appointed a new Health Secretary in the wake of the surge of COVID-19. I don’t know what is delaying him.
He must be having a difficult time trying to find who will replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Likewise, President Marcos has not yet appointed a new Energy Secretary in the wake of a looming energy crisis which I believe is crucial for the country.
I don’t like to suggest anyone who will be best for the position of Health Secretary.
But for Energy Secretary I would endorse Energy Regulatory Board Chairman Agnes Devanadera. She has all the qualifications. She was once the Finance Secretary of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.