Philippines news site Rappler loses appeal on foreign ownership

Philippines news site Rappler loses appeal on foreign ownership

Journalists, including Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, raise their smartphones with displaying the words
Journalists, including Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, raise their smartphones with displaying the words "STOP THE ATTACKS!" in a rally for press freedom in Quezon City, Philippines, Feb 15, 2019. (Reuters file photo)

MANILA: A Philippine news website critical of President Rodrigo Duterte violated a constitutional ban on foreign ownership in media companies, the Court of Appeals said in a decision released Monday.

Rappler Inc cannot claim that it is 100% Philippine-owned as required by law, the appeals court said, standing by its earlier decision affirming Securities and Exchange Commission’s closure order. The court, in a July decision, said Rappler’s move to give its US-based investor, Omidyar Network, the right to vote on its shares is “tantamount to some foreign control”.

At the same time, the appeals court in its latest decision reiterated its order to the SEC to re-examine its decision to shut Rappler. Foreign control on the media company “appears to have been permanently removed” after Omidyar donated its depository receipts to the website’s local managers last year following the closure order, it said.

Rappler’s head, Maria Ressa, was arrested and granted bail in February for an online libel case. Ressa, one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year in 2018, is also facing separate tax evasion charges filed by the Department of Justice.


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