Philippine news site critical of Duterte loses court appeal

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2018, file photo, Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa gestures during an interview at their office in metropolitan Manila, Philippines. The Court of Appeals has upheld a decision that the online news site critical of President Rodrigo Duterte violated a constitutional ban on foreign ownership of news media. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine appeals court has upheld a decision that an online news site critical of President Rodrigo Duterte violated a constitutional ban on foreign ownership of news media.

The Court of Appeals said in a decision made public Monday that Rappler Inc. effectively allowed U.S.-based investor Omidyar Network "to participate" in its corporate actions and decisions in violation of the constitution, which requires media companies to be fully owned and managed by Filipinos.

Rappler argued that it did not grant Omidyar the power to control or influence its news operations, but last year, the appeals court backed a Securities and Exchange Commission decision to revoke the site's license.

Media watchdogs have said the move was an act to muzzle the media.

While upholding its ruling against Rappler, the appeals court asked the SEC to reassess its revocation of the news website's operating license after Omidyar donated its holdings in Rappler to some of the site's managers and staff.

"It is incumbent upon the SEC to evaluate the terms and conditions of said alleged supervening donation ... whether the same has the effect of mitigating, if not curing, the violation it found," the court said.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government would not interfere in the case and "will let the law take its course." He said Rappler's case was not a press freedom issue.

Last month, Rappler's chief executive officer and executive editor, Maria Ressa, was arrested but freed on bail over an online libel case.

The move against Ressa, who was one of Time magazine's Persons of the Year last year, was denounced by Rappler and media watchdogs as a threat to press freedom. Duterte's government said the arrest was a normal step in response to a criminal complaint.

People also read these

'Dangal' becomes China's biggest non-Hollywood...

May 23, 2017

The Aamir Khan film "Dangal" about an Indian man training his daughters to become wrestlers has...

Kevin Kwan: Americans will embrace 'Crazy Rich...

Aug 30, 2017

Kevin Kwan believes America will embrace the "Crazy Rich Asians" movie, which is based on his...

Propaganda in China means heavily scripted news...

Oct 20, 2017

A "corridor" event held during China's ruling party congress is a study in how officials respond to...

China media dominated by Xi, reinforcing image as...

Oct 26, 2017

Newspapers, TV and magazines are dominated in images of President Xi Jinping, reinforcing his...

The Latest: Trump salutes 'growing friendship'...

Nov 9, 2017

President Donald Trump has saluted what he calls the "growing friendship" between the United States...