Rappler News Site Shut Down in Philippines; CEO Maria Ressa Hailed as Torchbearer of Free and Fair Reporting

The closing down of the Philippines-based news organization Rappler has posed a question mark on the freedom of press in the country. At the same time, the news has not gone down well with the people as a large faction of social media followers have termed this move on the part of the government as "regressive" and "authoritarian".

The supporters of Ressa feel that she is the torchbearer of free and fair reporting in the country and this order should be rolled back keeping in mind the freedom of media.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and journalist Maria Ressa is the CEO and founder of Rappler. She has accused Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that this shutdown is the result of her reports on outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. On the other hand, SEC accused Ressa of having given control of the News Site to the foreign entity in lieu of investment.

Maria Ressa

SEC Accuses Ressa of Having Given the Control of Rappler to Foreign Entity

According to a report published by CNN, Ressa has been involved in legal battles for the past few years. In January 2018, the Philippine SEC revoked the registration of Rappler for allegedly violating the foreign ownership rules. However, the newsroom continued to operate.

The SEC alleged that Rappler's parent company "intentionally created an elaborate scheme" to cover an investment from a foreign source, and that the organization is a "mass media entity that sold control to foreigners," the report stated further.

It is noteworthy that constitutionally, mass media companies in the Philippines are prohibited from having foreign ownership.

Not in the least deterred by the orders of shutdown, Ressa has kept her fighting spirits high. Her words, "This is intimidation. These are political tactics. We refuse to succumb to them," she said. "We're not going to voluntarily give up our rights. And we really shouldn't. I continue to appeal for that because when you give up your rights, you're never going to get them back," have been widely shared on social media and have garnered support from every quarter.

A Twitter user shared, "SEC ordering Rappler shutdown NTC issuing memo to block alt-media sites NTC restricting block time deals, merger of networks Duterte admitting that he used presidential powers to influence Congress re ABS-CBN franchise Welcome to the upside down."

"Rappler CEO @mariaressa says they will appeal the SEC shutdown order. She also urges the Marcos administration to strengthen the rule of law, and view journalists as partners, not enemies. #ANCSoundbytes," read a tweet.