Philippines Orders News Outlet Rappler To Shut Down, Says Founder Maria Ressa
Nobel laureate Ressa also spoke to The Quint on the recent arrests of Mohammed Zubair and Teesta Setalvad.
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Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace laureate Maria Ressa, on Tuesday, 28 June, announced that the Philippine government has ordered to shut down her news organisation Rappler, which gained notoriety for its reportage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s contentious crackdown on illegal drugs, CNN reported.
Ressa, speaking at the East-West Centre’s International Media Conference in Honolulu said that the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (PSEC) affirmed its previous decision to remove the organisation’s certificates of incorporation.
“Part of the reason I didn’t have much sleep last night is because we essentially got a shutdown order,” Ressa told the audience.
The former CNN bureau chief and Time Person of the Year said that the Rappler team will appeal this decision, "especially since the proceedings were highly irregular,” CNN reported.
"What does this mean? We have existing legal remedies all the way up to the highest court of the land. It is business as usual for us since in our view, this is not immediately executory without court approval," Ressa wrote in an internal announcement to Rappler staff, according to the report.
Last year Ressa and Russian Dimitry Muratov became the first working journalists to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in over 80 years. She also became the first Filipino to become a Nobel Peace laureate.
“We intend to not only contest this through all legal processes available to us, but also to fight for our freedom to do journalism and for your right to be heard through an independent platform like Rappler,” the company said in a statement.
Rappler, in a a statement said that the order is dated 28 June and “In an order dated June 28, our Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc and Rappler Holdings Corporation.”
“We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shutdown of Rappler,” the statement added.
Ressa has been a staunch critic of Duterte and the deadly drug war, launched in 2016. Ressa and Rappler have been the subject of criminal charges, probes, and online attacks.
The Duterte government accused Rappler of violating its constitutional ban on foreign ownership while securing funding, and tax evasion as well.
“We’re not shutting down,” Ressa said. “Well, I’m not supposed to say that.”
Death by a Thousand Cuts: Ressa on Arrest of Mohammed Zubair and Teesta Setalvad
Ressa also spoke to The Quint on the recent arrests of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair and activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad, calling it a “death of democracy by a thousand cuts.”
“Its time to stand up for your rights, you can’t voluntarily give it up,” Ressa said.
“The law is being weaponised and the key thing is, you need to mobilise your community. Start with the journalists,” she added.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday, 27 June, on the charges of outraging religious feelings and promoting enmity between different groups.
The fact-checker has been arrested over a 2018 tweet carrying a "questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion," the police said.
Zubair had been arrested in the present case on Monday evening at the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, where he had been called for investigation in another case.
(With inputs from CNN.)
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