Malacañang on Monday denied allegations that the Duterte administration had a hand in the decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the certificate of incorporation of news website Rappler.
In an interview on DZMM, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the SEC order was due to Rappler's alleged violation of the Constitution.
"Wala pong katotohanan 'yan dahil ang Saligang Batas naman po ang nagsabi na hindi pupuwede na mag-ari ang mga dayuhan kahit isang share of stocks sa isang negosyo ng mass media. Kinakailangan 'yan na 100% Filipino," he said.
(It's not true because it is stated in the Constitution that foreigners cannot own a single share in mass media companies. It has to be 100% Filipino-owned.)
He added said only one commissioner of the current SEC leadership was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte, and the rest were all appointed by the previous administration.
"'Yung mga nag-desisyon po sa SEC, hindi naman po yan mga appointees ni Presidente Duterte. Yan po ay mga taong walang kaduda-duda ang integridad at 'yung kanilang pagkakaalam sa corporation law," Roque explained.
(Those who made the decision in SEC were not appointed by President Duterte. They are people with integrity and they are knowledgeable about corporation law.)
According to Roque, the Duterte administration has nothing to do with the issue.
"Unang-una po, Saligang Batas po ang nalabag. Hindi po kami ang sumulat ng Saligang Batas, ang taong bayang Filipino po ang nagbigay ng bisa diyan sa Saligang Batas. At hindi rin po ang presidente ang nagsabi na ang Rappler ay lumabag diyan. 'Yung SEC na hindi po namin kaalyado. So bakit po ang pinagbubuntong hingahan ay ang ating administrasyon eh wala ho kaming kinalaman diyan?" he said.
(First of all, (Rappler) violated the Constitution. We were not the ones who wrote the Constitution, it was ratified by the Filipino people. And it was not the President who said Rappler violated it. Those in SEC are not our allies. So why is the Duterte administration being blamed when we know nothing about it?)
He also said that Duterte's tirades against Rappler in the past have nothing to do with the issue.
"Patas lamang po 'yan. Binabanatan ng Rappler ang presidente, bakit hindi pupuwedeng bumanat din sa kanila ang Presidente? Wala na bang karapatan sa malayang pananalita ang presidente?" Roque said.
(It's only fair. Rappler criticized the president, so why can't the president criticize Rappler? Doesn't the President have the right to free speech?)
In a decision released by the SEC en banc, it found Rappler Inc., a mass media entity, liable for violating the constitutional and foreign equity restrictions in mass media.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said the SEC ruling did not go through due process.
She also said they will fight the decision and bring it to court.
Rappler is one of several news organizations that has earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for critical reporting on issues hounding his administration, including the bloody war on drugs.
Late last year, Rappler launched a fund drive asking supporters to help them "stay free and independent of political pressure and commercial interests."
The campaign has collected P1.175 million in nearly 4 months.