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Rappler to appeal CA decision

/ 05:50 AM July 30, 2018

The lawyer of embattled news site Rappler has vowed to exhaust all legal remedies to prove that it did not violate the foreign ownership ban on media outlets as mandated by the Constitution.

Francis Lim, senior partner at the 46-year-old law firm Accra Law, on Sunday said in a text message that he was still hopeful that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would reverse an earlier decision to revoke the certificate of registration of Rappler Inc. and its controlling stockholder, Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC).

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Foreign equity restriction

Lim was reacting to the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) promulgated on July 26, which affirmed the SEC’s order that Rappler and RHC were “liable for violating the constitutional and statutory foreign equity restrictions in mass media.”

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The CA also affirmed the SEC’s decision to void the Philippine depositary receipts (PDRs) issued to Omidyar for being a “fraudulent” transaction.

“We have not received a copy of the Court of Appeals decision. We will study it upon receipt and avail of legal remedies and seek all avenues in order to show that Rappler did not violate the Constitution,” Lim said.

“As stated in our petition before the CA, Rappler did not give any form of control to Omidyar Network with regard to the operations and management of Rappler. Since it was established and until now, Rappler remains to be 100-percent owned by Filipinos and managed by Filipino journalists. Only Filipino journalists decide on what should be the content of all Rappler articles. Rappler is also the only news outfit wherein the journalists manage its business operations,” he said.

The next step for Rappler will be to file a motion for reconsideration of this CA decision. The next battleground will be at the Supreme Court.

The bone of contention revolved around the structure of PDRs issued by RHC to Omidyar Network Fund LLC, an offshore fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Investment donated

After the SEC revoked the registration of Rappler, Omidyar decided to donate its $1.5-million investment in Rappler to its Filipino managers.

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“We are glad that the Court of Appeals appeared to have ordered the SEC to conduct further proceedings,” Lim said.

“We are hopeful that the SEC will reverse its previous decision revoking Rappler’s certificate of registration, especially since all of the questioned PDRs were already transferred to individual Rappler staff,” he added.

The donation may have already corrected the violation of the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of mass media, the CA said. Nonetheless, the appellate court affirmed the SEC’s Jan. 11 decision to revoke the certificate of registration.

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TAGS: Accra Law, Court of Appeals, foreign ownership of media outlets, Francis Lim, Rappler, Rappler Holdings Corp., RHC, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission
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