Activists and media organizations rallied behind the news site Rappler after the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered it to shut down this week.
“We stand with Rappler and its journalists and staff as the government moves to shut down the independent news site,” read a statement from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
The group noted that throughout the six-year term of President Rodrigo Duterte, journalists and the communities they cover have been attacked with lawsuits and regulatory issues.
The NUJP said that aside from “touted” infrastructure projects, muzzling the free press has become Duterte’s legacy.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, chief executive officer and co-founder of Rappler, announced on Tuesday, June 28, the SEC order to close the digital news outlet.
In a statement on Wednesday morning, Rappler assured that it will appeal the decision, saying the proceedings were “highly irregular.”
The SEC said that the news site which was established in 2012 violated the “constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media.”
“The decision of the SEC to uphold its closure order on Rappler is a tightening of the disinformation campaign of the Duterte and the incoming [Ferdinand] Marcos regimes,” said lawyer Neri Colmenares in a social media post.
He said the government seems “bent on silencing fearless journalism so its machinery can continue propagating lies.”
The group Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines warned that the “forces of disinformation and tyranny” are now working harder.
“They are truly targeting media outlets that ask the hard questions and do not kowtow to the administration line,” Vladimer Quetua, ACT-Philippines chairperson, in a statement.
“What is very dangerous though is that in doing so, the forces of disinformation and tyranny would grow more emboldened,” he added.
The SEC decision came days after the National Telecommunications Commission ordered telecommunications companies to block the websites of independent news media sites Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly.