Cancellation of Rappler’s license to operate, a ‘heavy punishment’— media organizations

admin   •   January 22, 2018   •   3809

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


Amal Clooney to represent Rappler’s Maria Ressa

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2019

(L-R) Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney

MANILA, Philippines – International human rights lawyers Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC will join Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s legal team.

In a statement, Clooney expressed confidence in Maria Ressa as a ‘courageous’ journalist “who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses.”

Ressa is currently facing several criminal cases including tax evasion and cyberlibel.

Together with her team, Clooney promised to protect the rights of journalists in the country with their handling of Ressa’s charges.

“We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ressa said she is ‘delighted’ by Clooney and her team’s willingness to help in her case.

“I have been targeted and attacked simply for being an independent journalist,” Ressa said in a statement.

“I am delighted that Amal Clooney and her team will be representing me at the international level to challenge the violations of my rights and those of the media organization I represent,” the embattled journalist added.

Clooney and Gallagher, both specializing in international law and human rights, are members of the Doughty Street Chambers law firm. – with details from Mai Bermudez

SEC orders ALMAMICO, ALAMCCO to stop Ponzi-like investment scheme

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday ordered Alabel Maasim Mining (ALMAMICO) Corp., Alabel-Maasim Credit Cooperative (ALAMCCO) to stop soliciting money through the Ponzi scheme and without the necessary license.

The SEC said a cease and desist order was issued by the Commission En Banc on June 4, directing ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO to stop engaging in offering and selling to the public securities in the form of investment contracts without the necessary license from the agency.

The said entities operate largely in Sarangani, General Santos and Koronadal Cities, enticing members to invest their money in exchange for a 35 percent monthly return which is supposedly compounded when investors lock in their investments for a year.

According to the SEC, the scheme satisfies the elements of an investment contract, including the placement of money, the money invested is placed in a common enterprise, expectation of profits, and the generation of expected profits from the entrepreneurial and managerial efforts of others.

“ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO were also found to have engaged in public offering of securities when they indiscriminately or randomly promoted their investment schemes through videos posted online,” the agency said in a news release.

The SEC said that under Section 8.1 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code, “securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines, without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the Commission.”

The commission also noted that aside from operating without license, the investment scheme of ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO also resembles a Ponzi scheme, which is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new members.

The SEC has ordered the group’s officials and partners to stop promoting the scheme, and immediately delete the promotional videos from the internet.

Those who have invested in the said companies are also advised to contact the SEC offices in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

President Rodrigo Duterte had previously ordered agencies to launch a crackdown on companies that offer ‘too good to be true’ investment schemes.

Last May, hundreds of ALAMCCO members gathered in Sarangani to protest against the government crackdown, insisting that their investment scheme is not a scam.

Criminal raps to be filed vs Kapa Ministry — SEC

Robie de Guzman   •   June 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to file criminal complaints against the officials of Kapa Community Ministry International for allegedly operating a fraudulent investment scheme.

SEC Chairman Emilio Aquino said Kapa Ministry solicited what it called “donations,” promising returns as high as 30 percent per month although it did not have the appropriate secondary license for investment products.

The SEC said that based on their investigation, Kapa promised its members billions of pesos in returns, but its assets cannot back up such claims.

SEC records show that Kapa, which is short for Kabus Padatuon (Enrich the Poor), registered as an independent religious organization in March 2017 indicating its headquarters in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.

But several days after its registration, the SEC issued an advisory against Kapa for unauthorized solicitation of investments.

In October 2018, the SEC issued another advisory for the same reason while in February 2019 a cease-and-desist order was issued against Kapa.

Aquino said they held back from taking action against Kapa due to court injunctions and its operation as a religious group.

Last June 4, the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the freezing of several bank accounts and other assets linked to Kapa upon the petition of the SEC and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Its founder, who identified himself as Pastor Joel Apolinario, denied the allegations while insisting that the sole aim of the organization was to help the poor.

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