Philippines Orders Rappler Shutdown

Photo: Picture Alliance [via NBC News]

The Facts

  • Filipino-American journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maria Ressa announced on Tues. that the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had ordered her news organization, Rappler, to shut down.

  • The order alleges that Rappler, an independent news website that came to prominence by investigating allegations of extrajudicial violence in connection with Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs," violated foreign ownership rules.

The Spin

Narrative A

Ressa and her news organization present themselves as independent watchdogs out to enforce the rule of law. But Rappler violated the Philippine Constitution and its statutes and then offered flimsy excuses after the fact to try and cover up their misdeeds. They engaged in secretive deals with other US entities.

Narrative B

The Philippines is the canary in the coalmine: the shutdown of Rappler and the repression of Ressa and independent new media voices are part of a growing global trend of "digital authoritarianism." The end game for aspiring authoritarians is to clamp down on facts, truth, and ultimately, trust. Civil society, NGOs, and independent media must work together to hold governments to account.

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