Philippines: News Site Rappler Ordered To Shut Down

Philippines: News Site Rappler Ordered To Shut Down
Photo Credit Credit: AP / TPG Images

What you need to know

The site, co-founded by Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, was known for covering Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs. The move comes a day before President Rodrigo Duterte is due to leave office.

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa confirmed on Wednesday that the Philippine government is pressing forward with an order to shut down Rappler, the news website she co-founded. 

The site, which gained notoriety for reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, was ordered to shut a day before Duterte leaves office. 

Despite the order,Ressa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, vowed to keep the site running despite the order.

“We continue to work, it is business as usual.”

Rappler, the news organization founded by Ressa in 2012, has been at the forefront of the campaign against fake news and disinformation in the country, pooling together resources among a variety of actors — including reporters, lawyers, and activists — to fact-check and expose disinformation.

“Part of the reason I didn’t have much sleep last night is because we essentially got a shutdown order,” Ressa told the audience during a speech in Hawaii.

As vocal critics of Duterte, Ressa and Rappler have faced a series of criminal charges, probes, and online attacks. 

However, the latest blow came as the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed the “revocation of the certificates of incorporation” of Rappler for violating “constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media” on Wednesday.

The news site said the latest decision confirmed the shutdown but vowed to appeal. 

“We have discussed all possible scenarios with Rapplers (staff) since SEC issued its first order in 2018,” said Glenda Gloria, executive editor and co-founder of the site. “Nothing ever sufficiently prepares an organization for a ‘kill’ order.”

Several attempts to shut down Rappler

The government has taken several steps to shut down Rappler by charging Ressa and the publication with multiple counts of tax evasion as well as cybercrimes. 

She was convicted of online libel in 2020 under the Philippines’s anti-cybercrime law, which critics say is used as a means to quash dissent. In response, Ressa has accused the government of weaponizing “not only social media but also the country’s laws and is using it against media organizations.”

Speaking at Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum in Bonn earlier this month, Ressa noted that lies, laced with anger and hate, spread faster than facts. “Rebuilding trust with truth is vital to combat the rise of fascism,” she said.

Ressa’s comments came at a time when journalists and human rights activists in the Philippines are increasingly concerned about the ascent to power of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the former Philippine dictator. He is set to become president on Thursday after his recent electoral triumph.

Marcos Jr.’s running mate — Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing President Duterte — was sworn in as vice president earlier this month. 

Both of them have so far failed to acknowledge the human rights atrocities that took place under their fathers.

see/rs (AP, AFP)

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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