Controversial Philippine online news website Rappler has been ordered by the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down its operations. Rappler CEO and journalist Maria Ressa said they will appeal the SEC's ruling citing the irregularities of the decision to revoke their operating license.

According to Inquirer.net, the company was duly notified by its lawyers about the final ruling after the SEC first revoked its license in January 2018 pending legal battles over its alleged violation of foreign ownership rules. Rappler continues to operate despite the revocation with Ressa citing their stand and opinion that the ruling was not immediately executory without court approval.

“We have existing legal remedies all the way up to the highest court of the land. It is business as usual for us,” Ressa said during the East-West Center international conference in Hawaii. 

Rappler has been implicated in allegedly creating an elaborate scheme to disguise an investment from a foreign source, and was selling out full control of a mass media entity to foreigners, well known to be a violation of the Philippine constitution. The foreign investor in question is eBay founder Pierre Omidyar who created Omidyar Network. Rappler has since denied foreign ownership as it justified that they did not hand over any control of the parent company to Omidyar.

The news site said that the SEC accepted an arrangement made in 2015 whereby the Philippine Depositary Receipt would govern Omidyar Network. The newsroom CEO said they will request the Court of Appeals to annul its decision citing Rappler’s right to due process was just as much violated when the order to shut down was issued without a formal charge. To date, the SEC has issued orders of cancellation on the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation.

Ressa who has a Nobel Peace Prize to her credit, was once CNN’s former bureau chief, and also made it as TIME Magazine's Person of the Year in 2018. She earlier claimed that her legal battles began soon after she started publishing critical reports about outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration. Ressa insists the company is being subjected to intimidation and political tactics as she asserts their intention to “continue holding the line”. 

As the Philippines welcomes its newly inaugurated leader, media groups have been urging its new president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to protect and uphold media freedom. However, many observers have expressed their concern about his relationship with Philippine mainstream media.

Maria Ressa Nobel Peace Prize awarded Maria Ressa gives a speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony 2021 at Oslo City Town Hall on December 10, 2021 in Oslo, Norway. Photo by Per Ole Hagen/Getty Images