Rappler CEO Maria Ressa (Global FWN100™ '14) disputed on Tuesday the claim of the Duterte administration that it had nothing to do with the controversial decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the news outfit’s license for allegedly violating ownership rules.
“That’s not true, that’s not what we have heard. We’ll continue doing stories,” Ressa said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“Again, I think this is a war of attrition. What is publicly stated is not what is privately going on behind the scenes but that is what journalists do: we will shine the light,” she added.
Ressa did not expound on the alleged involvement of the government in the SEC decision but said that there was someone who was “running after the SEC on a daily basis for a decision that is adverse to Rappler.”
When asked by host, Pinky Webb, to identify the person, Ressa said: “That’s off the record. What we know is that this is political and if it wasn’t this, it would be something else. There is a strong move to shutdown Rappler.”
Ressa also emphasized that it was the Office of the Solicitor General who had questioned before the corporate watchdog Rappler’s ownership.
“I have stated that this is about political pressure, and that we’ve been told in the same way that the SEC decision actually put on the record that it was the Office of the Solicitor General (behind the move),” she said.
Not against the government
Ressa emphasized that Rappler was “not against the government” and the role of the press in a democratic society is to “help the government come up with the right decisions.”
“Although it is publicly questioned, it could be seen as criticism by thin-skinned people, in the end, that is how it works,” she said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday, hours after news broke of the SEC order, that the “government had nothing to do with the SEC decision.” He said Rappler had to comply with the Constitution that mandates 100 percent ownership of mass media.
In a decision dated January 11, the SEC ordered the revocation of Rappler Inc.’s certificate of incorporation for violating the restriction on foreign ownership of local media, the anti-dummy law, the corporation code, and the Securities Regulation Code.
The SEC declared “void” the he Philippine depositary receipts (PDRs) issued by Rappler Holdings to Omidyar Network Fund LLC, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, claiming this was a “fraudulent” transaction under the Securities Regulation Code.
Ressa said Rappler would appeal the decision and it would continue operating amid the order.