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CA upholds SEC order vs online news site

The Court of Appeals has denied the petition filed by online news site Rappler seeking to stop the implementation of the Securities and Exchange Commission decision revoking the certificate of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corp. for allegedly violating the Constitution and foreign equity restrictions in mass media.

In a 72-page decision dated July 26 penned by Associate Justice Rafael Antonio Santos, the CA 12th Division affirmed the SEC findings and dismissed the petition filed by Rappler, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of SEC.

“The petition is hereby denied. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission is hereby directed to conduct an evaluation of the legal effect of the alleged supervening donation made by Omidyar Network of all its Philippine Depository Receipts to the staff of Rappler Inc. Accordingly, this case is hereby remanded to the SEC for this purpose,” the CA said.

The SEC had earlier cancelled the registration of Rappler Inc. and RHC for “existing for no other purpose than to effect a deceptive scheme to circumvent the Constitution.”

Meanwhile, Malacanang said the decision indicated that the case was not really about the alleged infringement of press freedom.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the ruling has affirmed that the SEC was “correct to revoke Rappler’s registration based on its previous investigation.”

“The decision likewise supports the Palace stance that this case does not involve press freedom, but the regulatory powers of the SEC,” Roque said.

Roque added the the Palace was confident the SEC could “resolve the case with the same competence and objectivity as before.”

President Duterte had earlier slammed Rappler for being a “fake news outlet” that operates using foreign money.

He claimed that Rappler’s articles, such as the report about his assistant Christopher Go’s alleged intervention in a Navy weapon supplier procurement, were filled “with innuendos and pregnant with falsity.”

Since the SEC decision was handed down last January, Malacañang has banned Rappler from covering the President’s activities in Malacañang and other places. (PNA and Genalyn D. Kabiling)