MANILA - Rappler reporters may continue to cover their respective beats but only as “bloggers” once the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission to strip it of its corporate personality becomes final, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Wednesday.
Roque made this statement as he stressed that the SEC decision to revoke Rappler’s incorporation papers was not an issue of press freedom.
"Pwede pa silang maging bloggers. Maria Ressa can continue to blog. Pia Ranada can continue to blog. Kaya lang po baka kailangan nilang kumuha ng accreditation as bloggers kasi they cannot continue conducting their business as Rappler,” Roque said in a news conference in La Union.
Roque noted, however, that in Malacañang for instance, a Rappler reporter may need to get accreditation as a blogger in order to get access to certain Palace events.
“All bloggers, in order to have access to Malacañang, will have to seek accreditation,” he said.
Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, who is tasked to handle the administration’s social media affairs, had earlier requested that Rappler be classified as a social media entity. This means that the online news site could fall under her jurisdiction in terms of granting of coverage accreditations.
In revoking Rappler’s incorporation papers, the SEC said the news site, led by former ABS-CBN News chief Maria Ressa, "sold control to foreigners" and violated the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.
Philippine depositary receipts held by Omidyar stated that its holder “must have prior approval” on changes in Rappler’s articles of incorporation or by-laws, SEC spokesperson Armand Pan earlier pointed out.
Ressa told ANC on Wednesday she would fight the SEC’s ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, calling it a "corporate issue and a press freedom issue."
A provision in PDRs held by Omidyar Network in Rappler said the fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar must have "prior approval" when it comes to changes in the news outfit's by-laws or articles of incorporation.
Ressa said that this did not give Omidyar control, but rather, "the power to leave if they don't like what we're doing."
"That's exactly what it is. It's ludicrous to read into it more than what is there," Ressa said. "They have no control over Rappler Inc, where the journalists are."
Ressa said Rappler took out the questioned provision in the PDR late last year and informed the SEC.
"What they did is they ignored it," she said, adding Rappler was not given the same one-year leeway to remedy foreign ownership issues that was accorded to PLDT Inc.
She also decried that while the government did not “physically stop” Rappler from delivering news, what it did was “try to attack us from an economic angle.”
Malacanang has denied involvement in the SEC's moves against Rappler. President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday majority of SEC members were appointees of his predecessor.