Philippine news website Rappler’s license revoked after Duterte threat

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The Philippine government has revoked the operating license of leading news website Rappler, officials said Monday in a ruling denounced by President Rodrigo Duterte’s critics as another blow to press freedom.

Rappler, set up in 2012, is among a clutch of Philippine news organizations that have sparred with Duterte over their critical coverage of his brutal drugs war.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it had revoked the incorporation certificates of Rappler and Rappler Holdings Corp because they violated a provision in the Philippine constitution reserving media ownership to Filipinos.

“(Both are) existing for no other purpose than to effect a deceptive scheme to circumvent the constitution,” the agency said in a January 11 ruling posted on its website Monday.

Rappler’s acting managing editor Chay Hofilena told AFP the company would file a court appeal against the ruling, which is due to take effect in 15 days.

“This is pure and simple harassment, the seeming coup de grace to the relentless and malicious attacks against us since 2016,” the website said in a statement, adding Duterte was among those who had attacked it.

“We will continue bringing you the news, holding the powerful to account for their actions and decisions, calling attention to government lapses that further disempower the disadvantaged,” it said.

The case concerns Rappler Holdings’ decision to issue Philippine depositary receipts for shares of Rappler Inc. that the government said were sold to foreign companies.

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