A major press freedom debate has ignited in the Philippines after the Filipino industry regulatory authority, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), revoked the licence for Rappler - a major English media house in the Philippines, which has been highly critical of the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, as reported by BBC.
Rappler is a major English media group in the Philippines which was founded in 2012 by former CNN journalist Maria Ressa and counts two US firms among its investors.
The regulatory authority says that the action against Rappler is being taken because of its failure to comply with a law that requires media houses to be fully owned by Filipinos. The SEC has ruled that the money invested in the business indicated that Rappler is owned and therefore controlled by these foreign entities.
President Duterte has been critical of the media house in the past, and had attacked it saying "you have been throwing trash... If you are trying to throw garbage at us, then the least that we can do is explain how about you? Are you also clean?"
He had earlier said that the news house is “fully owned by Americans”, and also termed it as “Fake News”.
However, the decision by SEC is being viewed by many as a government attempt at censorship and has evoked mixed reactions in the country.
However, the Filipino National Press Club (NPC) has issued a statement saying that SEC order does not curtail press freedom. Paul Gutierrez, head of the country's oldest and biggest press organisation, said in a statement, "To say that the fate of one media entity found to have run afoul with the law translates to media repression in the country is stretching the argument a bit too much."
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