Philippine PEN condemns ‘shakedown’ of Rappler, independent press
20 January 2018 – The Philippine Center of PEN International condemns the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the license of the digital news media outfit Rappler and sees it as part of the continuing shakedown by the administration of Rodrigo Duterte of the independent press which is critical of his abuses and depredations.
The PEN International Charter enjoins writers and journalists to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression. “PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in time of peace,” the PEN Charter says. “It believes that the necessary advance of the world towards a more highly organized political and economic order renders a free criticism of governments, administrations and institutions imperative.” Moreover the PEN Declaration on Digital Freedom urges “governments … not to prosecute individuals or exact reprisals (upon those) who convey information, opinions or ideas through the digital media.”
The Philippine PEN therefore condemns the shutdown of Rappler as a violation of the Filipino’s right to seek and receive information and opinion through digital journalism. The Duterte government, by targeting Rappler and the free press, undermines the universal right to freedom of expression. The SEC order against Rappler betrays once more the Duterte administration’s despotism and its intolerance of dissent and contrary views.
The SEC’s revocation of Rappler’s certificate of incorporation is yet another assault on press freedom. A people without a free press cannot be entirely free, which is among the reasons that Freedom House, the independent organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, classifies the Philippines as only “partially free.” Now that partial status may yet be downgraded further. The assault on Rappler and the free press can only further diminish us as a people and a democratic citizen of the free world.