Court finds ‘undue haste’ in securities case vs Rappler, orders preliminary investigation
MANILA, Philippines — A Pasig City court has suspended proceedings in the illegal securities sale case against online news site Rappler and remanded the case to proseuctors for preliminary investigation.
The Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 159 explained that the “undue haste in transmittal of the records of the case” for the filing of criminal charges violated the rights of the accused to due process.
Respondents in the case include Rappler CEO Maria Ressa as well as Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atienza, and James Velasquez.
The case was filed against the Rappler executives for alleged violations of Commonwealth Act No. 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law and Securities Regulations Code (SRC).
The charges stemmed from Rappler’s issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipt (PDR) to foreign investor Omidyar, which prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission to revoke the online news website’s registration.
Under the anti-dummy law, foreigners are prohibited from intervening in any “nationalized activity” which included the operation of a media company. The 1987 Constitution restricted media ownership to only Filipinos.
But the Rappler officials questioned the filing of the case, saying that they did not have the chance to respond.
The decision, issued by Judge Elma Rafallo-Lingan, said “undue haste” in transmitting the records of the case to coiurt “violates the accused’s right to due process.”
The court ruling defers trial of the anti-dummy law case. It also ordered the two cases consolidated.
Bail for Ressa and Gloria was also reduced from P126,000 to P63,000. Ressa’s travel bond was also reduced from P100,000 to P50,000./TSB
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