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Asia Minute: Philippine news website appeals government attempt to shut it down

Philippines Rappler Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa
Aaron Favila/AP
A staff of Rappler monitors as Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa talks during a zoom meeting that is seen inside their office in Pasig city, Philippines on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Ressa said her Rappler news website was operating “business as usual” Wednesday and would let Philippine courts decide on a government order to close the outlet critical of the outgoing Duterte administration and its deadly drug crackdown. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

On the day before Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte leaves office, there are developments involving a news organization that has been critical of his administration.

The Philippine government has ordered the news organization Rappler to shut down.

CEO and Co-founder Maria Ressa says Rappler is appealing the case, which would revoke the company’s certificates of incorporation — after being in existence for more than 10 years.

The latest development in this ongoing case comes just before President Rodrigo Duterte leaves office — to be succeeded by President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

It also comes soon after the Philippine government blocked access to more than two-dozen other websites — including several independent news organizations.

The National Telecommunications Commission took that action at the request of the outgoing National Security Adviser — who suggested the websites “are supporting… terrorists and terrorist organizations.”

The banned websites include groups such as “Rural Missionaries of the Philippines” which says it “empowers farmers, fisher-folk and indigenous peoples and educates them on their rights.”

Another is, whose tagline is “Journalism for the People.”

Under current Philippine law, a group can be designated a terrorist organization without any court proceedings, hearings or notification to the parties involved.

As for Rappler, the company sent an internal message to staffers saying “it is business as usual for us.”

“We will adapt, adjust, survive and thrive.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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