By Hannah Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila de Lima today called the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) revocation of Rappler’s corporate registration alarming, saying it signals the Duterte administration’s repression of the freedom of the press.
The timing, she said, is also suspect, given the context of the President’s “direct and personal attacks” against Rappler and other media organizations particularly the Inquirer and ABS-CBN.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the revocation by SEC of Rappler’s corporate registration. This is an alarm that signals State repression of the freedom of the press, unwittingly started by an otherwise apolitical government institution that has all but ignored the repercussions of its decision on constitutional liberties, instead seeing the matter as a purely technical issue on corporate control and ownership,” De Lima said in a statement.
“The SEC decision, coupled with the present wave of authoritarian and anti-democratic actions of the Duterte regime, cannot but give the impression that it is but part of the trend of government assaults on institutions vital to our democracy,” she stressed.
The senator, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters over drug charges, said the SEC decision is unprecedented “in that it is a direct and frontal attack on a media organization.”
“Never was a media entity stripped by government of legal protection since the Marcos dictatorship,” she pointed out.
“This fact alone should alarm each and every member of the media that the formality of their organizations’ corporate existence can now be threatened by this regime through the SEC with the Damocles’ Sword of juridical de-legitimization,” she stressed.
She also said it is most alarming that members of the SEC, who are professional and respected experts in their field, have succumbed to disregard basic constitutional liberties.
“They failed to realize the broader anti-democratic repercussions of their decision, beyond the technical issues raised by the Duterte regime, thus allowing themselves to be used as a State instrument of attack on a media organization most critical of the regime’s authoritarian policies and actions,” she said.
She called the SEC action also shortsighted and myopic, “therefore extremely disappointing as it was unexpected from its leadership, given the high regard given to them by the past administration.”
“Day by day, the Duterte regime manages to turn respected and reliable government institutions, taking them into its authoritarian fold, one by one, and transforming them into instruments of State repression and injustice,” she said.
“We are thus fast approaching another fascist era in the Philippines. Before any hope is lost, the Filipino people must act in support of a free press and call for the restoration of democratic values in our government institutions,” added the lawmaker.