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Ressa, a Nobel laureate, promises to challenge the decision to shut down a Philippine news site

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Maria Ressa, a Filipino who won the Nobel Peace Prize , vowed on Wednesday to defy a directive from the ...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Maria Ressa, a Filipino who won the Nobel Peace Prize, vowed on Wednesday to defy a directive from the corporate watchdog to shut down her online news outlet Rappler, which is renowned for its critical reporting of President Rodrigo Duterte's policies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which handed down its decision against Rappler on Tuesday, did so amid concerns from press freedom advocates and journalists that obstacles will not abate under Ferdinand Marcos' presidency, who takes office on Thursday.

"We'll keep performing our duties. Ressa said at a media briefing that the SEC decision was "intimidation" and that her reporters would "continue to hold the line, report, and demand that access be there." ".

The SEC upheld its 2018 decision to revoke Rappler's operating licence for breaking the prohibition on foreign ownership of local media when it transferred depositary rights to a foreign corporation on Tuesday.

The Omidyar Network, the charitable organisation founded by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, was claimed by Rappler to be a silent investor. By giving the depository receipts to Rappler's workers, Omidyar severed ties.

Francis Lim, an attorney for Rappler, stated at the media briefing, "We strongly disagree with the (SEC's) judgement. There are legal procedures to query the decision, and the SEC cannot impose the order while an appeal is pending."

When asked about the SEC's ruling, a member of President-elect Marcos' media staff responded, "No comment at this time."

During the presidential campaign, Marcos avoided interviews and debates because, according to his detractors, he has been difficult to reach by the media and some foreign journalists have claimed they were turned away from campaign events.

Ressa and the Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov split the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, a decision that was widely interpreted as supporting free speech rights that are being criticised all over the world.

Ressa is now out on bail following her conviction for cyber libel in 2020, one of many cases brought by government organisations against the website.

Human Rights Watch's Phil Robertson referred to the SEC decision as "an effort to silence Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and shut down Rappler by hook or by crook."

The Committee to Protect Journalists rated the Philippines seventh in the world in its 2021 impunity index, which chronicles the deaths of media members whose perpetrators go free. The Philippines was ranked 147 out of 180 nations in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

The government insists that any issues organisations may have are legal, not political, and denies harassing the media. It claims to support free expression.

An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by Duterte's spokesperson.


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