Manila, Philippines – Independent local news portal Rappler has announced that they have received an order from the nation’s Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down the organisation, according to its CEO Maria Ressa.

Ressa announced the news during her speech at the East-West Center international media conference in Hawaii, according to a report from CNN Philippines.

“In an order dated June 28, our Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holding Corporation. We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shutdown of Rappler,” the online statement said.

The company also added, “We are entitled to appeal this decision and will do so, especially since the proceedings were highly irregular.”

In a full 12-page statement released by SEC, it stated that the order is made due the organisation’s “violation of constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media.”

“The Company Registration and Monitoring Department is hereby directed to effect the revocation of the Certificates of Incorporation of Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corp. in the records and system of the Commission,” SEC said.

This was not the first time Rappler has been ordered by SEC to shut down its operations. In 2018, Rappler was ordered to shut down for the same reason. According to SEC, Rappler violated the constitutional and statutory foreign equity restrictions in mass media when it issued Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) that granted Omidyar Network, a foreign entity, control over the media organisation.

Rappler is the latest news organisation that has been hit with closure orders. Recently, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered the closure of several websites, including independent news organisations such as Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, that are allegedly linked to terrorist organisations Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Closure of news organisations have been more rampant in the Philippines in recent years, especially those that have been critical of the outgoing government led by President Rodrigo Duterte. The biggest of which is the closure of media conglomerate ABS-CBN on June 30, 2020, where they have been told to go off air in free television.

Manila, Philippines – In retrospect of the recent observance of World Press Freedom Day last 3 May, non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders has launched a new solidarity campaign alongside French advertising company BETC in support of Filipino journalist veteran Maria Ressa, who is also currently the CEO of Philippines-based online news outlet Rappler. 

Reporters Without Borders is an international non-profit and non-government organization aimed at safeguarding the right for freedom of information. The organization works in defense of journalists who work at high risk environments. Part of their advocacy is to release press statements and investigative reports on threats to press freedom, as well as providing assistance to journalists in terms of physical and digital security.

The campaign, titled ‘#HoldTheLine For Maria Ressa’, allows users to submit their support videos on the campaign’s dedicated microsite, which will play on loop through a YouTube livestream, and will continuously play until actions have been made by the Philippine government to drop charges against Ressa and cease pressure against her and Rappler.

A snippet of the website, featuring the embedded video of the campaign livestream.

Maria Ressa, one of the most-celebrated journalism figures in the world and who’s also best known for her current position as CEO and co-founder of Rappler, has been a proactive and strong critic of the current Duterte administration in the Philippines, where Rappler actively covers various controversies of the current administration, including the infamous ‘War On Drugs’ and the promulgation of fake news during the 2016 national elections.

Despite having nine open cases against her and having faced 10 arrest warrants under two years, Ressa has been well-recognized for her work as a journalist, earning her a spot as TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year in 2018’, and winner of this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. She is also one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.

#HoldTheLine is an international coalition that has come together in support of Maria Ressa and independent media in the Philippines. It consists of more than 80 groups led by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Ressa, as depicted in the front cover of TIME Magazine in December 2018.

“The Duterte regime’s vicious attacks against Maria Ressa are attacks on journalism itself, and on democracy. At RSF we have been proud to stand in solidarity with this courageous journalist, and now we call for the international public to mobilise in her support, which could provide her with vital protection as she faces the escalating threat of a possible lifetime in prison,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary-general at RSF.

The campaign speaks as well on a realist sense, as Reporter Without Border have reported in their 2021 World Press Freedom Index where the country ranks 138 out of 180 countries, smeared by the impunity for violence against journalists who are reporting on the pseudo-war on drugs being waged by the Duterte regime, which has resulted in mass extrajudicial killings.

“We will resist all attacks on press freedom.They are trying to scare us, but don’t be afraid. Because if you don’t exercise your rights, you will lose them.” Maria Ressa stated.

Aside from submitting a video, supporters can also sign and share the #HoldTheLine petition calling on the Philippine government to drop all charges against Ressa and Rappler.