SEC upholds its decision to revoke Rappler’s license registration

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It’s a February 2021 decision, and a move for reconsideration has already been filed. According to lawyer Francis Lim, this is a positive thing since it allows Rappler to “really ventilate the topic.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) maintains that overseas investor Omidyar Network’s (Omidyar) contribution of financial instruments to Rappler has “no effect” in overturning the SEC’s 2018 decision to revoke the media outfit’s license.

In a conference on Monday, Francis Lim, lawyer for Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, acknowledged that the SEC filed its newest report to the Court of Appeals (CA) without hearing their side.

“Unfortunately, the SEC submitted a report to the Court of Appeals saying it [donation] has no effect without giving us the opportunity to comment on the effect,” Lim said during a news briefing held on Monday by Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and her international and local lawyers ahead of the December 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

“We made a very strong case there, and unfortunately the SEC panel did not ask for our view before submitting its report to the Court of Appeals,” Lim said.

“We also view it as a continuation of the previous proceedings, in which case we will have the same argument. So either or, it’s good for Rappler and Maria because it gives us the opportunity, it buys us more time to really ventilate the issue to the fullest extent possible,” Lim stated.

Rappler also filed a move for reconsideration with the SEC on the SEC’s Jan. 11, 2018, ruling, which withdrew the media organization’s license to conduct business for allegedly engaging in a fraudulent transaction and violating constitutional prohibitions on foreign ownership.

The SEC discovered that Rappler permitted Omidyar to possess Philippine Depositary Receipts, a financial instrument in which foreign companies can invest for financial returns in a local company but not in the form of dividends that are related to ownership.

In that decision, the CA directed the SEC to reconsider its decision to revoke Rappler’s registration. They held firm on their previous results.

According to Rappler, PDRs do not confer ownership rights, and other huge corporations operate in a similar manner. It further stated that the investment had no impact on editorial activities.

The beleaguered media company took the matter to the CA, which confirmed that Rappler is not entirely owned by Filipinos and backed the SEC ruling.

“That itself is an issue, it depends on how the Court of Appeals views the SEC decision upholding the revocation, whether it’s already final and therefore cannot be revisited by the same division of the Court of Appeals. It’s good for us, it gives us the opportunity to debate or litigate the effect of donation of PDRs to Filipinos,” Lim said on Monday.