Philippines: Government orders Rappler to shut down

The Philippines government has again ordered the shutdown of Rappler, an independent media organisation founded by the Nobel Prize-winner Maria Ressa. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) stand with Rappler and urge the government to end its efforts to silence press freedom in the country.

An employee of news online portal Rappler walks past the company logo at their office in Pasig City, suburban Manila on June 29, 2022. Credit: Maria TAN / AFP

On June 28, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirmed its 2018 decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc and Rappler Holdings Corporation due to the violation of “constitutional and statutory restrictions of foreign ownership in mass media”.

The SEC stated that the latest order upholds the previous decision of the Court of Appeals. The decision came two days before President Duterte ends his term, and incoming president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is sworn in on June 30.

Press freedom has been under attack during the Duterte presidency with the murder of journalists, blocking access to alternative media, and red-tagging. The Duterte administration has also used lawsuits and regulatory processes to muzzle the press.

Rappler has consistently served the public interest and has been critical of the Duterte administration, including giving a voice to the drug war victims.

In a press conference on June 29, Maria Ressa said that Rappler would challenge the decision and that they will continue to work and stand up for their rights. In an internal memo to its staff, Rappler said: “Clarity, agility, sobriety. Review our drills and the tasks assigned to you. Meantime, it is business as usual for us. We will adapt, adjust, survive and thrive.”

NUJP said the decision to shut down Rappler comes after the National Telecommunications Commission moved to block alternative news sites Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly and to regulate blocktime broadcasting arrangements. This decision also contributes more uncertainty to the media landscape in the Philippines.

NUJP said: “It is clear now, if it had not been clear before, that the journalism community and the communities that we report about and for must stand together against government moves to harass, restrict and silence any of us to keep the press free for all of us.”

The IFJ said: “Independent media is essential for informing people and holding leaders to account. IFJ stands with Rappler and calls for the Philippines government to end its efforts to silence the media.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram