MANILA - News site Rappler can continue its operations pending appeal to the court since the Securities and Exchange Commission's revocation order is not "final and executory," a spokesperson for the regulator said Tuesday.
The SEC said Rappler violated foreign ownership restrictions on mass media. The website management said Omidyar Network and North Base Media "do not own" the company, even if they hold Philippine Depositary Receipts.
"The commission en banc decision has not become final and executory. The respondent Rappler Corporation can still go to Court of Appeals within 15 days to challenge the decision of the SEC. Meantime, it can go on business as usual," spokesperson Armand Pan told ANC's Market Edge.
He explained that Rappler filed a notice of exemption in 2015 but it did not attach its PDRs issued to Omidyar Network "so we have no way of checking whether there are objectional provisions in the PDRs."
After the PDRs were subpoenaed, Pan said they learned that a section of it stated that receipt-holders "must have prior approval when it comes to changing the articles of incorporation or bylaws of the company."
"That means that Rappler cannot even change the principal office address, the date of meetings--those are operational policies of the corporation, which means the PDR-holders exercise right of ownership," he said.
"The mere giving of right to participate in these management acts is enough. They need not be exercised. It's there in the PDR itself," he added.
Pan insisted that the SEC, in its decision, merely fulfilled its mandate as a corporate securities regulator and it did not know of any intention to curtail press freedom.
He admitted, however, that the Solicitor General's formal request "started" the investigation into the news site, which has previously earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for its articles critical of the administration.
Malacañang has also denied involvement in the SEC's move.