Malacañang on Tuesday, January 16, decried media firm Rappler’s claim that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision to revoke its certificate of incorporation over constitutional violations was an attack on press freedom.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. in a Palace press briefing assured that Rappler reporters would not be prevented from exercising their duty as journalists in the light of the SEC decision.
“Truth is the reporter of Rappler is still in our press briefing. She is not being prevented from exercising her profession as a journalist. None of the individuals behind Rappler will be prevented from performing their duties as journalists,” he said.
The Spokesperson clarified that the SEC decision was based on its own findings that Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation violated the constitutional provision of limiting the ownership of media entities to Filipinos.
Citing the SEC decision, Roque said the news organization issued Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) in favor of foreign investors.
“You see here an instance where although they are not shareholders, nonetheless, the holders of the PDRs are given the same right to control the company in terms of amending the articles and bylaws,” he explained, adding that the move was a circumvention of the prohibition set by the Constitution.
Secretary Roque also said it was a “great disservice” to SEC Chairperson Teresita Herbosa to assume that she could easily be influenced to come up with a decision contrary to law.
“The SEC is looked upon as one of the most efficient agencies of government. Chairman Herbosa is renowned and respected for [her] dedication to the rule of law and for her consistent stand against corruption in government as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Roque said that although the State should not in any way suppress press freedom, it should also not exempt anyone, media outlets included, from complying with the country’s laws.
“Particularly when you’re talking of a media outfit in the exercise of a public trust criticizing government officials for violating the Constitution and the laws of the land, I would hope that they would be first and foremost compliant with all constitutional and legal requirements themselves,” Roque said of Rappler.
Palace: $380M PH-ADB loan for Mindanao infra signed
Meanwhile, the Palace announced that the Philippines, through the Department of Finance, signed last week a $380-million loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project (IGCMRSP).
The ADB’s first Mindanao-specific loan in 16 years is by far its biggest infrastructure investment in the Philippines approved in 2017.
The project involves the construction and improvement of road networks and bridges in the island, including the construction of about 280 kilometers of primary, secondary, and tertiary roads in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi.
“Modernizing the infrastructure of Mindanao will not only develop and contribute to the growth potentials of the region, but will also help in achieving peace and prosperity in the southern Philippines,” Roque said.
The Palace official also commended the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for remitting P5.220 billion in 2017 to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), the highest amount generated since 2012.
The BCDA will allocate its P4.839 billion disposed assets to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program and other beneficiary agencies, Roque cited. ### PCO-Content