MANILA, Philippines — The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) decision to cancel Rappler’s license to operate is not a commensurate response and a heavy punishment for the online news agency.
Media organizations such as the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) believe that Rappler’s nature as a business and a media entity should be dissected.
“Let Rappler answer for its lapses while it still operates as a media entity. That’s it. Let’s draw the line. You cannot have that kind of a serious punishment for Rappler,” said PPI Executive Director Ariel Sebellino.
According to Professor Danilo Arao of University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communications, it is clear that the online news agency is Filipino-owned.
“Because if you look at the articles of incorporation and the other SEC papers of Rappler, what’s stated there is that it’s 98% owned by RHC or the Rappler Holdings Corporation and other percentages and the remaining shares would be owned by the likes of Maria Ressa, Chay Hofilena, some other personalities,” said Arao.
The news agency is currently facing several cases. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is facing a cyber crime complaint aside from the one filed by SEC.
But setting this aside, Rappler and other media organizations still have a responsibility to the public to be transparent in every transaction it enters.
According to NUJP, the credibility of reporters are being tested especially now that “fake news” sites are spreading.
“I think, we ourselves as journalists should be transparent about our work process. How do we gather the news, you know how do we make the news because this is the only way to make people understand that what they’re reading, what they’re seeing, what they’re hearing is actually a product of a painstaking process of fact-betting,” said NUJP Board Member Nonoy Espina.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security denies that this era is the most dangerous time for members of the media.
“We have so many media organizations in the Philippines. We have 436 broadcast TV stations. We have 411 AM stations. We have 114 FM stations and we have more than 400 newspapers not to mention how many bloggers do we have pro or anti-government that are free in speaking their minds so, I don’t see it,” said PTFoMs Executive Director Usec. Joel Sy Egco.
“Let’s see if we have a media outfit which will be closed because they are critical of the government. Let’s see if there’s something that will happen to Rappler if there’s an attempt to curtail their exercise their media profession. Let’s just let it. Facts will prevail. We already said we don’t have any knowledge about it. The president has no knowledge about it. They are not stopping,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
The task force will be intensifying the operational guidelines for media security on Wednesday which it will disseminate throughout the country. — Mai Bermudez | UNTV News and Rescue