- SEC decided to revoke the certificate of registration of Rappler Inc.
- President Rodrigo Duterte finally speaks up about the allegations that he ordered SEC to do it
- Duterte dislikes the idea of accusing him as the main reason for the closure
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that President Duterte has nothing to do with the Rappler controversy with SEC.
He also said that the President was not aware of the SEC action towards Rappler.
Roque also added that if President Duterte really wants to shut down the operation of Rappler, he could just simpl send the Armed Forces of the Philippines just like what other administration did. Fortunately, President Duterte did not do it.
"The President found it unfair for Maria Ressa to claim a violation of the freedom of the press when according to him, Rappler has been very active criticizing individuals for violating the Constitution and the laws of the land and it turns out it is by itself violating the Constitution," Roque said.
"Before you criticize others, look into the mirror. Look at yourself first," he also added.
Roque said that the President disliked the accusation of Rappler wherein the SEC decision was based on Duterte's aversion to the online news site.
"Of course not! He had nothing to do with the decision. He was not even aware that there was this decision coming up," Roque said.
According to the SEC, Rappler violated the Foreign Equity Restriction of the Philippine Constitution, which states that "(t)he 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."
"No one is exempt from complying with the Constitution and the laws of the land. Even Rappler, even the media must comply with it," the spokesperson said.
He also added that even the other online news sites like Vera Files and MindaNews do not have Philippine Depositary Receipts with foreign entities.
Roque also clarified that SEC chair Teresita Herbosa and all the commissioners except for one are appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III and that Duterte has only one appointee at the SEC.
"Blaming our President on how Rappler ended up is also a "great disservice" to Herbosa" Roque added.
"If you respect Maria Ressa in the journalism profession, Chair Herbosa enjoys the same kind of respect amongst lawyers. That's really something that lawyers will find difficult to accept that Chair Herbosa is a person who can be influenced to making a decision that is contrary to law. Chair Hebosa is simply not capable of that," he said.
"It is unfair to her [Herbosa] to think that she is acting merely as a lackey of the President. She will never do that," he added.
Rappler is under fire after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday, January 15 revoked its registration and certificate to operate.
Rappler looks at the SEC’s order as “harassment.”
Meanwhile, they also claimed that with what is currently going on, they will still continue to bring out news.