Dispatch from Crame No. 223: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on SEC’s Revocation of Rappler’s Corporate Registration

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I condemn in the strongest terms the revocation by the Securities and Exchange Commission 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.

The timing of the decision is held suspect, given the context of the President’s direct and personal attacks on Rappler and other media organizations such as the Inquirer and ABS-CBN. 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.

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. 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 delegitimization.

The members of the SEC are professional and respected experts in their field. It is therefore most alarming that in an atmosphere of government impunity, they too 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.

The shortsighted and myopic action of the SEC is 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. 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.

We must not let the days where our government institutions only serve the whims of one man and his regime return to oppress us once more. We must fight once again to liberate this country from the curse that this abomination of a President and his pack of power-hungry jackals has brought upon this country and our government institutions.

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