The digital medium co-founded by the Filipino journalist Maria ResaNobel Peace Prize winner in 2021, was still working this Wednesday, hours after receiving the close order on the last day of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency.
Ressa has been highly critical of Duterte and the deadly drug war waged after he came to power in 2016, earning her and her outlet Rappler a long list of denunciations, investigations and attacks.
In a statement, this body confirmed on Wednesday the “revocation of the certificates of incorporation” of Rappler by violate constitutional restrictions and regulations on foreign ownership in the media.
Rappler indicated that this decision effectively confirms the closure of the company, but showed its intention to appeal it, arguing that the procedure has been very irregular, in addition, Ressa assured that the portal will remain operational as his legal battle continues.
“We continue working, it’s like always. We can only think that everything will be better,” the journalist told the press.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr.son of the former Philippine dictator, will take over as head of the country on Thursday, for which activists fear a deterioration in the situation of the human rights and freedom of expression under his presidency.
The outlet has had to fight to survive in the face of government claims that it violated a constitutional clause that prohibits foreign ownership for financing, tax evasion and cyber-defamation.
Duterte had directly branded it a “fake news outlet,” especially after an article about one of his closest aides.
An uncertain future
According to the Constitution, investments in the media are reserved for Filipinos or entities controlled by Filipinos.
The indictment is based on an investment in Rappler in 2015 by an American company, OmidyarNetworkcreated by the founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar.
Omidyar Network then transferred its investment to local web operators to prevent Duterte from trying to shut it down.
“Let the law take its course and let the Securities and Exchange Commission do its job,” presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said. “Rappler may bring remedies available at law,” he added.
Ressa, who is also a US citizen, and the Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
Muratov’s daily, Novaya Gazeta, suspended operations in Russia in March following the adoption of a law to punish critics of the invasion of Ukraine.
For his part, Ressa is fighting at least seven other court cases, including an appeal against a six-year prison sentence for cyber defamationwhile the International Center for Journalists called on the government to reverse the decision.
“Legal harassment not only costs Rappler time, money and energy. It enables online violence designed to silence independent journalism,” the organization said on Twitter.
Rappler’s future and its legal battles are uncertain.
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Despite closure order, Nobel journalist Maria Ressa’s website continues to function