MANILA - The Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked the certificate of incorporation of news website Rappler for violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media, according to an official document released on Monday.
Rappler "sold control to foreigners," the SEC said in a resolution dated Jan. 11. The regulator said the Department of Justice will be furnished a copy of the decision for "appropriate action."
The news website reported the SEC decision on Monday and denied the SEC's claim that Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, controlled its operations.
"Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) do not indicate ownership. This means our foreign investors, Omidyar Network and North Base Media, do not own Rappler," the news outfit said.
"They invest, but they don't own. Rappler remains 100-percent Filipino-owned," it said, referring to its statement issued in July 2016.
Rappler issued a statement after the decision was released, calling on the public to "defend press freedom."
President Rodrigo Duterte claimed at the time that Rappler was "fully owned" by Americans, as he warned the company that it violated the 1987 Constitution.
SEC accused Rappler of violating constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming from foreigners.
The media outlet is "liable for violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media , enforceable through laws and rules within the mandate of the Constitution," the SEC said.
The SEC also declared the Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) of Rappler as void "for being a fraudulent transaction."
Rappler late last year 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.