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PH news portal Rappler ordered to shut down by SEC

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.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s Securities and Exchange Commission team up with Google PH to screen crypto ads

Manila, Philippines – The country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has teamed up with tech giant Google to require advertisers offering cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets targeting the Philippine audience to present proof of their registration and/or license to operate in the country. 

Starting on July 7 this year, the new regulation measures by SEC and Google is part of the commission’s regulatory compliance from entities doing business online in order to protect the investing public and other financial consumers. 

Furthermore, its also adds to Google’s existing policy that requires all advertisers to comply with local laws for any area that their advertisements target. Google will take appropriate action to address any violations.

Emilio B. Aquino, chairperson at SEC, said, “This continuing partnership with Google will help the Commission fulfill its mandate as registrar and overseer of the Philippine corporate sector, as well as protector of the investing public, in the digital age.”

The SEC has consistently reminded the public to be vigilant and exercise due diligence before transacting or dealing with any entity, and those based abroad without any registration or license to do business in the Philippines. 

It has also sought to educate the public on legitimate investment options through investor protection and financial literacy campaigns online. Over the course of the pandemic, the commission has observed that several entities have taken advantage of the online space to spread investment scams supposedly engaged in cryptocurrency trading when in reality, these do not exist.

“We believe the new policy can reduce the number of Filipinos falling prey to unregistered investment schemes online, who are usually victims of aggressive online advertising and intrusive tactics that make them believe in products that are often too good to be true,” Aquino stated.

As the national government regulatory agency tasked with supervising the corporate sector, entities doing business in the Philippines must first register with the SEC, in general. Meanwhile, operators of cryptocurrency exchanges must register with the BSP as remittance and transfer companies, pursuant to BSP Circular No. 944 issued February 6, 2017. 

Discussions with Google PH started in 2019 to counter the increase of unregistered personal loan apps in the country. This year, Google has revised its policy for personal loan apps targeting users in the Philippines, requiring them to submit a Personal Loan App Declaration and other necessary documents before they could publish apps on Google Play. Failure to provide such documents will lead to the personal loan app’s removal from Google Play.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Thai authorities to regulate crypto as means of payment for services, goods

Bangkok, Thailand – ​The Bank of Thailand (BOT), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Ministry of Finance (MOF) have released a joint statement regarding implementation of regulations on the use of cryptocurrencies as mode of payment for goods and services.

In a joint statement, they stated that the regulations are meant to avert potential impacts on the country’s financial stability and economic system.

“This may result in a wider adoption of digital assets as a means of payment, aside from its usage as investment, which could potentially impact financial stability and the overall economic system. The use of digital assets in this manner could also pose further risks to consumers and businesses through price volatility, cybertheft, personal data leakage, or money laundering,” according to the statement.

Furthermore, added regulatory guidelines will be issued for certain digital assets that are supportive of the financial system and financial innovation while not posing systemic risks. Feedback from relevant stakeholders and the general public will be taken into consideration to determine the appropriate regulatory frameworks.

For Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, governor of the BOT, the central bank takes into consideration both the risks and benefits of digital assets, including the underpinning technologies. 

“At present, widespread adoption of digital assets as a means of payment for goods and services poses risk to the country’s economic and financial system. Therefore, clear supervision of such activity is needed. However, technologies and digital assets that do not pose such risks should be supported with appropriate regulatory frameworks to drive innovation and further benefit for the public,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, secretary-general of SEC, states that the SEC, as the regulator for digital asset business operators, has a policy to promote the development of digital asset businesses alongside consumer protection and places emphasis on utilizing digital assets to develop the country’s economy and society. 

“After discussion with the BOT and MOF, the SEC has conducted a public hearing regarding the guidelines for using digital assets as a means of payment for goods and services” to determine the appropriate frameworks in due course,” she added.