Filipino watchdog shuts down news site critical of Duterte

EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

Protesters burn an image of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a demonstration criticizing the Philippine leader in Manila, Philippines, 17 January 2018. The government's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in a decision on 11 January, revoked the registration of online media portal Rappler due to alleged violations of the Constitution in relation to ownership of mass media entities. Critics have called the move a curtailment of press freedom, alleging that President Duterte had a hand in the SEC decision.

Rappler is accused of violating a constitutional rule that restricts ownership of media entities to Filipinos.


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The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the operating license of independent news site Rappler earlier this week amid accusations that it violated a constitutional statute that prohibits media outlets from being foreign-owned.

Rappler denied the accusations, saying the decision was politically motivated and connected to the outlet’s criticism of the country’s authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte.

“What this means for you, and for us, is that the Commission is ordering us to close shop, to cease telling you stories, to stop speaking truth to power, and to let go of everything that we have built with you since 2012,” Rappler said in a prepared statement addressed to its viewers.

In recent months, Rappler has sharply criticised president Duterte’s controversial and increasingly deadly war on drugs. Duterte has accused the site of being clandestinely owned by Americans opposed to his heavy-handed rule.

Rappler consistently insisted that they are “100% Filipino-owned”.

Demonstrators protested in Manila on Wednesday, claiming Duterte was behind the SEC’s decision.

Rappler said it would continue to fight for press freedom under Duterte’s populist rule. “We intend to not only contest this through all of the legal procedures that are available but also to fight for our right to work as  journalists and for every citizens’ right to be heard through an independent platform like Rappler.”

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