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The Philippine news site Rappler has been forced to shut down

#Philippine #news #site #Rappler #forced #shut

A Filipino news site co-founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa has been ordered to shut down, the company said on Wednesday, a day before President Rodrigo Duterte – his nemesis – leaves office.

Ressa has been a vocal critic of Duterte and the deadly drug war he launched in 2016, which media sources say sparked a spate of criminal charges, investigations and online attacks against her and Rappler.

The final blow was delivered by the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a statement Wednesday, it confirmed Rappler’s “revocation of charters of incorporation” for violating “constitutional and legal restrictions on foreign ownership of mass media.”

Rappler said the decision “effectively confirms the closure” of the company and vowed to appeal, describing the process as “highly irregular.”

“We’ve discussed all possible scenarios with Rapplers (employees) since the SEC placed its first order in 2018,” Glenda Gloria, the site’s editor-in-chief and co-founder, told reporters.

“Nothing ever adequately prepares an organization for a ‘kill order’.”

Rappler struggled to survive after Duterte’s administration accused her of violating constitutional prohibitions on foreign property and tax evasion in raising funds.

It was also accused of cyber defamation – a new criminal law introduced in 2012, the same year Rappler was founded.

Duterte has attacked the site by name, calling it a “fake news source” over a story about one of his closest associates.

The news outlet is accused of allowing foreigners to take control of its website through the issuance of “depository receipts” through parent company Rappler Holdings.

According to the constitution, investments in media are reserved for Filipinos or Filipino-controlled companies.

The case stems from the 2015 investment by US-based Omidyar Network, founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Omidyar later transferred his investment in Rappler to the site’s local managers to stave off Duterte’s efforts to shut it down.

Ressa, who is also a US citizen, and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their efforts to “uphold freedom of expression”.

Ressa is fighting at least seven lawsuits, including an appeal against a conviction in a cyber defamation case for which she is on bail and faces up to six years in prison.

The International Center for Journalists has urged the Philippine government to reverse its order to close Rappler.

“This legal harassment not only costs Rappler time, money and energy. It enables relentless and prolific online violence aimed at suppressing independent reporting,” ICFJ said in a statement released on Twitter.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the former Philippines dictator who has directed widespread human rights abuses and corruption, will succeed Duterte on Thursday.

Activists fear Marcos Jr.’s presidency could worsen human rights and freedom of expression in the country.

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