News website Rappler will "continue holding the line", its CEO Maria Ressa said Wednesday after the Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its ruling that will effectively shutter the digital media firm.
Rappler will appeal the decision at the Court of Appeals and is willing to bring the case all the way to the Supreme Court if needed, its chief legal counsel Francis Lim said.
"It’s not the end of the world for us there is still a very long process to go…We strongly believe in our case," Lim told reporters.
Lim said Rappler has 15 days from Tuesday to appeal the SEC ruling, noting that the regulatory body cannot enforce the decision pending appeal. Should the SEC enforce the ruling pending appeal, Lim said Rappler would file a temporary restraining order.
"We strongly disagree with the decision. And fortunately for us, we have legal remedies available to question the decision before our courts of law," he added.
The SEC said its latest ruling enforces its 2018 decision to cancel Rappler's registration for allegedly violating the constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media. It said Rappler allowed Omidyar Network to hold Philippine Depositary receipts -- financial instruments that both Filipinos and foreigners can invest in.
The decision came on the eve of President Rodrigo Duterte's exit from Malacañang. Rappler has been known to be critical of the administration of Duterte, particularly his bloody war on drugs. In 2018, the President barred Rappler's reporter Pia Ranada from entering Malacañang. Two years later, he called Ressa a "fraud".
'Business as usual'
Pending appeal, Nobel laureate Ressa said Rappler's reportage would continue.
"Our goal is to continue holding the line... We're not going to voluntarily give up our rights," Ressa said.
"It is business as usual for us since, in our view, this is not immediately executory without court approval,” she said in a statement earlier in the day.
Rappler is the latest news outfit to face legal problems with the government. In 2020, ABS-CBN was shuttered after Congress refused to grant the network a fresh franchise in what was seen as a fulfillment of Duterte's threat. The Lopez-led network was forced to lay off thousands of workers as a result of the non-renewal of its franchise.
Earlier this month, the National Telecommunications Commission ordered internet service providers to block access to alternative news website Bulatlat along with over 20 other left-leaning online pages based on the request of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Bulatlat and the other websites were accused of "supporting terrorists and terrorist organizations."
Ressa compared such challenges faced by journalists to pollution and called on media practitioners to hold the line
"It's like, you treat it like pollution. We still have to keep breathing, we still have to keep working," Ressa said.
"What we do today will determine the kind of democracy we have. the kind of future we'll have," she said.