Roque: Omidyar donation 'an admission' of Rappler's violation

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2018 10:00 AM | Updated as of Mar 01 2018 05:49 PM

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MANILA - Rappler is not yet off the hook in its alleged violation of foreign ownership laws even after its American investor transferred its interests to the local company, a Palace official said Thursday.

On the contrary, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque believes Omidyar Network's donation of its Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to Rappler is equivalent to an admission of its violation.

"It's an admission that they violated the Constitution. Why would they donate their PDRs if all along they have been maintaining that they are not violating the Constitution?" he told ANC.

Roque said it is not enough that Omidyar donated its interests to Rappler, saying the media firm should form a separate corporate entity without PDRs. 

He criticized Rappler for challenging Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita Herbosa to prove that the revocation of Rappler's incorporation papers "is not politically-motivated." 

"That's extreme arrogance. The SEC does not have anything to prove," he said, 

"[SEC] ensures the Constitution is followed, and they shift the onus on the regulatory body to prove that a media company is not in breach of the constitution?" he added.

The SEC earlier revoked Rappler's certificate of incorporation for alleged violation of constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming from foreigners. 

The SEC cited a provision in the PDR that says Rappler should discuss with Omidyar first any alterations in the company's by-laws that will affect the PDR. 

The Palace has also banned Rappler reporter Pia Ranada from entering Malacañang complex.

Rappler, meanwhile, insisted that the PDRs it issued to Omidyar did not violate the constitution, and that the SEC ruling was neither final nor executory as it was still being questioned in court.

"Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque conveniently ignores that, however. It is the only way he can accomplish the government’s intention of demolishing the credibility of a news organization that has unflinchingly reported on the administration’s questionable policies and officials’ misconduct," Rappler said in a statement. 

The online news outift maintained that the government's moves against it were an attack on press freedom.