By Juzel Danganan
MANILA --- The National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) has claimed that digital news platform Rappler violated the constitutional limit for foreign ownership on media companies, after it granted control and ownership to foreign firm Omidyar Network Fund LLC.
In a statement released Jan. 16, the NPC said Rappler “violated the strict constitutional provision on 100 percent control and ownership of mass media.”
The Constitution requires that control for any Filipino media entity should be 100 percent.
NPC president Paul Gutierrez said responsible journalism means complying with the law, adding that it did not accept members, journalists and media entities “of dubious legal personalities.”
In its decision dated Jan. 11, 2018, the SEC revoked the operating license of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corp. for using a “deceptive scheme” to violate restrictions on foreign ownership rules.
“As the SEC noted, Rappler breached this constitutional limit when it allowed Omidyar to exercise control over its corporate affairs as provided for in their internal agreement, in exchange for a fund infusion of USD 1 million dollars,” Gutierrez said.
Omidyar Network Fund LLC is one of the Philippine Depositary Receipts holders of Rappler.
The press club also said press freedom and freedom of expression “have not been affected nor threatened” when the SEC moved to cancel Rappler’s license.
Gutierrez also denied any media repression in the country as there are over a thousand media entities in operation, which consist of 436 television broadcast stations, 411 AM radio stations, over 1,000 FM radio stations, more than 400 newspapers and social media platforms that have yet to be numbered.
“To say that the fate of one media entity found to have run afoul with the law translates to media repression in the country is stretching the argument a bit too much,” he added. (PNA)