Ressa has been a vehement critic of Duterte and the deadly war on drugs he launched when he assumed the presidency in 2016, which has earned the journalist and the website Rappler a long list of denunciations, investigations and attacks in the country.
The closing order was issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines. In a statement, the agency confirmed Rappler’s “revocation of certificates of incorporation” for violating “constitutional and regulatory restrictions on foreign ownership in the media.”
The newsroom of Rappler, the website of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, closes its doors after a determination by the government of Rodrigo Duterte, on June 29, 2022. — Photo: Maria Tan/ AFP
Rappler said the decision “effectively confirms the closure” of the company, but said intends to appeal against the measure, describing the process as “very irregular”. Ressa assured that the site will remain operational during the legal battle. “We continue working, as usual,” said the journalist.
Duterte leaves power on Thursday (30), after years of being heavily criticized over his repression and his aggressive anti-drug policy. However, his daughter will assume the vice-presidency of the new government, which will be commanded by Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the country’s former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
- As the son of a former dictator deposed by the people, he regained power for his family in the Philippines
The site has had to struggle to survive in the face of government allegations that it violated a constitutional provision prohibiting foreign ownership to obtain funding, tax evasion and cyber defamation.
Duterte once called Rappler a “fake news site”.
Maria Ressa, who also holds US citizenship, and Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their effort “to safeguard freedom of expression.” Muratov’s newspaper Novaya Gazeta suspended operations in Russia in March after a law was passed to punish those who criticize the invasion of Ukraine.
Ressa faces seven other court cases, including an appeal against a six-year prison sentence for defamation.
The International Center for Journalists asked the government to revoke the decision.
“Legal harassment doesn’t just cost Rappler time, money and energy. It allows for online violence designed to silence independent journalism,” the organization said on Twitter.
The order to close Rappler was announced on the eve of Rodrigo Duterte’s departure from the presidency. On Thursday (the inauguration ceremony of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator of the same name, whose government was marked by abuse and corruption will take place.
Activists fear his presidency represents an even worse time for the country’s human rights and freedom of expression.
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