MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – It already got itself in trouble once, so Rappler is making sure the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) don’t go after the online news source again.
Many will recall that SEC earlier revoked Rappler’s media license on the grounds that it violated the Constitutional provision of 100% Filipino ownership of media entities. CEO Maria Ressa is also facing charges of tax evasion in connection with monies owed the government by Rappler.
Rappler just proudly announced on its site that the global media (read: foreign media) had established a fund-raising campaign to contribute to ‘journalism’ causes such as Ressa’s.
But Ressa has a big dilemma. By accepting foreign funding, Rappler faces more scrutiny from SEC and BIR. She could always argue that the funds will not go directly to Rappler’s media operations, which is in effect, an admission that her online news source is not a media company — which also means that she no longer can claim that she is being harassed and intimidated by the Philippine government just because she is a journalist.
So what’s there to do?
Well, Ressa has asked foreign media contributors that any funds given to Rappler should be in the form of Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs). Ressa has used PDRs to support her claim that investments in Rappler by foreign entities such as Omidyar Network do not violate the Constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media.
Is this a case of Rappler trying to have its cake and eat it too?
We’re a satire site (often denied by Rappler), so we’ll let the legal experts as well as the SEC and BIR make that determination.