The Philippine news site Rappler co-founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa was ordered to shut down. The company announced that Rappler was shutting down a day before President Rodrigo Duterte left office.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa is a staunch critic of Rodrigo Duterte. The drug war he launched in 2016 was described by media advocates as a series of criminal charges, probes, and online attacks against Ressa and Rappler.
The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement that the “revocation of certificates of incorporation” of the news site Rappler was due to them violating “constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media”.
Co-founder Ressa announced in a speech that the government had affirmed a previous order to shut down Rappler. She said, “We’re not shutting down. Well, I’m not supposed to say that.”
Rappler said in a statement that the company would appeal, as the proceedings were “highly irregular”.
Co-founder and executive editor Glenda Gloria said that the company had discussed possible scenarios since the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission issued its first order in 2018.
Glenda Gloria and Maria Ressa had founded Rappler in 2012 and have been accused of cyber libel, tax evasion, and violating a constitutional ban on foreign ownership in secure funding. Durerte had attacked the news site by name and called it a “fake news outlet” after a story about his closest aides was published.
Co-founder Maria Ressa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for her efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression”. She is the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2020, she was found guilty of cyber libel under the Anti-Cybercrime law. Human rights groups and journalists saw her arrest and conviction as an attack on freedom. Since she is a prominent critic of Duterte and her conviction was seen as a politically motivated act by Duterte’s government. Ressa is currently fighting seven court cases, including an appeal against the aforementioned conviction in the cyber libel case.
The International Center for Journalists urged the government to reverse the order to shut down the news site.
Suggested Reading: What Maria Ressa's Noble Prize Win Means For Young Women In Journalism