Rappler backs ABS-CBN: Nothing wrong with legal foreign investments
MANILA, Philippines — Online news organization Rappler has stood in solidarity with broadcast company ABS-CBN in its legal battle with the government, asserting there is nothing wrong with receiving legal funds from foreign entities.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed Monday a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN, seeking to have its franchise repealed for allegedly hiding foreign ownership behind a corporate veil. This petition came 50 days before the network giant’s franchise expires in March.
Similarly, OSG previously filed a case against Rappler alleging that the online news site is foreign-owned. According to OSG, Rappler violated the 1987 Constitution because it handed out its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to foreign investors.
Rappler and ABS-CBN have been considered critical of the Duterte administration.
“We reiterate that PDRs are financial instruments used by media entities to allow foreign investments without violating the constitutional rule that media companies should be 100% Filipino-owned. PDRs are a common, lawful practice, and their legality has been upheld by the [Supreme Court],” Rappler said in a statement.
“We at Rappler deplore the latest attempt by the Duterte administration to use the levers of state power to bring down a media company and silence Filipino journalists,” it added.
Earlier Monday, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed before the Supreme Court the quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN supposedly to put an end to the broadcasting network’s “abusive practices”.
“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said in a statement.
To recall OSG had asked the Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to investigate Rappler’s alleged foreign ownership. In January 2018, SEC revoked Rappler’s license to operate.
The online news site appealed the case twice before the Court of Appeals (CA). Its first appeal was rejected, but the CA subsequently returned the case to SEC for review.
Aside from this, Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa was also arrested for a cyber libel case. Rappler labeled the case as a mere attempt to silence them.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines slammed OSG’s quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN pointing out that such a move is proof that President Rodrigo Duterte is exhausting all measures to stop ABS-CBN from continuing its operation.
Duterte has repeatedly vowed to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal even urging the network’s owners to just sell the company.
“By bringing ABS-CBN to court, Solicitor General Jose Calida reminded us of the reason he remains in his position despite his office’s miserable backlog: he has no qualms spending public funds to please his master,” Rappler said.
“The Duterte administration, through Mr. Calida, is resorting to legal gymnastics to push their own agenda of silencing critical media,” it added. “We stand with our colleagues at ABS-CBN and share the hope that they will weather this and come out even stronger.”