UP Doctor slams Rappler CEO Maria Ressa: Stop playing the victim! - The Daily Sentry

Thursday, December 6, 2018

UP Doctor slams Rappler CEO Maria Ressa: Stop playing the victim!



Rappler's CEO Maria Ressa and UP Doctor , photo from PBS and Facebook
As the Maria Ressa saga continues, the reaction from the netizens on the case of the Rappler's Chief Executive Officer also continuous to emerge. Some back Ressa while others were angered to the core.

One of them is vocal supporter of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Francisco Pascual Tranquilino.


Tranquilino is a doctor from the University of the Philippines who also happens to be the Special Assistant to the Dean and College Secretary.

Playing Victim

In a Facebook post, the pro-Duterte doctor slammed Maria Ressa for 'playing victim'.

"RESSA SHOULD STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM ON THIS ISSUE: FILING CASES FOR TAX EVASION AND VIOLATION OF THE FOREIGN EQUITY RESTRICTIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE AN ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM NOR POLITICAL PERSECUTION", the doctor's post reads.

The Legal Bases

Setting the record straight, the UP alumnus explained the premise or the legal basis of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

SEC is the government agency who decided to revoke Rappler's license early this year. Such decision was challenged by the news site before the Court of Appeals (CA).

"First of all, let us establish the legal basis for the SEC Decision on the case of Rappler", Tranquilino wrote.

Later, he enumerated 5 factors that lead to the revocation of the said commission which are the following:

1. On January 11, 2018, the SEC found Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation in violation of the: Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media as enshrined in Article XVI, Section 11 (1) of the 1987 Constitution enforceable through Section 2 of Presidential Decree 1018 Limiting the Ownership and Management of Mass Media to Citizens of the Philippines

2. Rule 3.1.8 of the 2015 IRR of the Securities Regulation Code defines “Control” as “the power to determine the financial and operating policies of an entity in order to benefit from its activities.” The definition is intentionally broad and does not equate control with either ownership of shares of stock or with management as director or officer. The definition embraces a broad range of schemes that grant influence over corporate policy

3. Let us consider only the unique terms/conditions found in the 7,217,257 Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) that Rappler Holdings Corporation issued to Omidyar Network Fund LLC (a company registered in the State of Delaware, USA). The Omidyar Network (ON) PDRs contain a provision wherein the company (Rappler) is required to seek approval of the ON PDR Holders on corporate matters, “12.2.2 not to, without prior good faith discussion with ON PDR Holders and without the approval of PDR Holders holding at least two thirds (2/3s) of all issued and outstanding PDRs, alter, modify or otherwise change the Company Articles of Incorporation or By-Laws or take any other action where such alteration, modification, change or action will prejudice the rights in relation to the ON PDRs.”

4. The Foreign Equity Restriction is very clear, anything less than One Hundred Percent (100%) Filipino control is a violation and anything more than exactly Zero Percent (0%) foreign control is a violation.

5. Provision 12.2.2 of the ON PDR as stated above requires prior discussion with and approval of at least 2/3 of the PDR Holders (Omidyar) which renders the stockholders subservient to the latter. Thus, some degree of Control is provided to the foreign PDR Holders (ON).

Duterte: their scapegoat?

Further, the doctor expressed his disappointment to what seem to be a negative impression that this case gives to the administration.

Questioning the news site's defense, labeling the government's move as an attack to press freedom also known as silencing dissent, Dr. Tranquilino asked how the act of simply exercising the rule of law be an assault to press or even political persecution?

"SO HOW CAN THESE BLATANT VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE LAW BE AN ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM OR POLITICAL PERSECUTION?", he said.

Stop Changing the Narrative!

Prior conclusion, the same left a message both for Maria Ressa and Rappler.

"IN THE END, RESSA AND RAPPLER SHOULD SIMPLY STOP SPREADING FAKE NEWS, SHE SHOULD STOP CHANGING THE NARRATIVE TO SUIT HER PERSONAL INTERESTS, JUST FOLLOW THE LAW AND ACT LIKE REAL RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISTS", he stated.

Read the complete Facebook post below of Dr. Francisco Pascual Tranquilino below:

RESSA SHOULD STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM ON THIS ISSUE: FILING CASES FOR TAX EVASION AND VIOLATION OF THE FOREIGN EQUITY RESTRICTIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE AN ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM NOR POLITICAL PERSECUTION

Francisco P. Tranquilino, M.D.
3 December 2018

First of all, let us establish the legal basis for the SEC Decision on the case of Rappler:

1. On January 11, 2018, the SEC found Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation in violation of the: Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media as enshrined in Article XVI, Section 11 (1) of the 1987 Constitution enforceable through Section 2 of Presidential Decree 1018 Limiting the Ownership and Management of Mass Media to Citizens of the Philippines

2. Rule 3.1.8 of the 2015 IRR of the Securities Regulation Code defines “Control” as “the power to determine the financial and operating policies of an entity in order to benefit from its activities.” The definition is intentionally broad and does not equate control with either ownership of shares of stock or with management as director or officer. The definition embraces a broad range of schemes that grant influence over corporate policy

3. Let us consider only the unique terms/conditions found in the 7,217,257 Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) that Rappler Holdings Corporation issued to Omidyar Network Fund LLC (a company registered in the State of Delaware, USA). The Omidyar Network (ON) PDRs contain a provision wherein the company (Rappler) is required to seek approval of the ON PDR Holders on corporate matters, “12.2.2 not to, without prior good faith discussion with ON PDR Holders and without the approval of PDR Holders holding at least two thirds (2/3s) of all issued and outstanding PDRs, alter, modify or otherwise change the Company Articles of Incorporation or By-Laws or take any other action where such alteration, modification, change or action will prejudice the rights in relation to the ON PDRs.”



4. The Foreign Equity Restriction is very clear, anything less than One Hundred Percent (100%) Filipino control is a violation and anything more than exactly Zero Percent (0%) foreign control is a violation.
SEC logo, photo from GMA News
5. Provision 12.2.2 of the ON PDR as stated above requires prior discussion with and approval of at least 2/3 of the PDR Holders (Omidyar) which renders the stockholders subservient to the latter. Thus, some degree of Control is provided to the foreign PDR Holders (ON).

Now in relation to these PDRs, the BIR discovered that Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) and Ressa "willfully attempted to evade or defeat tax and willfully failed to supply correct and accurate information under Sections 254 and 255, respectively of the tax code." This is a Php 133.84-million tax evasion case filed by the BIR against Rappler last March 2018.

Findings alleged that “Rappler, described as a "dealer in securities," did not pay income tax and VAT for PDRs it issued. RHC purchased common shares from Rappler Inc. amounting to Php 19.25 million. Using those common shares, RHC allegedly issued and sold PDRs to two foreign entities amounting to Php 181.66 million. The purchase of the shares and the subsequent issuance of PDRs for profit that transmitted economic rights (financial returns or cash distributions) derived from the equity of Rappler Inc. to the PDR is proof that RHC is engaged in the purchase of securities and resale thereof to customers.” (1)

SO HOW CAN THESE BLATANT VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE LAW BE AN ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM OR POLITICAL PERSECUTION?

Freedom of the press is solidly entrenched in our 1987 Constitution. Article III (Bill of Rights) Section 4 states “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances. Though I agree with freedom of speech and of the press, such freedom is not absolute, and freedom of any kind cannot exist without its paradox. The “paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint.” This paradox demonstrates the importance of understanding restraints and responsibility.

In this light, I believe Rappler has abused its freedom by merely regurgitating irresponsible and abusive misinformation and passing them as “news” and hiding under the cloak of freedom of the press (and of speech).

Bad press: 
- “shooting from the hip” writing without basis or data verification
- fabricated/manufactured stories
- conflicts of interest - credibility of the reporter
- misquotation
- Yellow Journalism - sensationalism
- Envelopmental Journalism - paid stories

While the media collectively offer a range of views, reporting by private outlets tend to reflect the political or business interests of their owners and financial supporters.

A free press is able to investigate, monitor, report on and expose the abuses and lies of the government, military and power players. It can tell the truth about events and practices those in power may wish to hide or deny (2)

The pros are obvious, to provide a healthy counter balance to the wrath of unchecked power. But those pros assume the press is not in-and-of itself enthralled in the wrath of its own powers. Freedom of any kind cannot exist without its paradox (3)

IN THE END, RESSA AND RAPPLER SHOULD SIMPLY STOP SPREADING FAKE NEWS, SHE SHOULD STOP CHANGING THE NARRATIVE TO SUIT HER PERSONAL INTERESTS, JUST FOLLOW THE LAW AND ACT LIKE REAL RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISTS

References:

1. Official Statement of Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete

2. Hug, L. What are the pros and cons of the freedom of the press. Quora, 2017



3. Van Hoegaerden, G. What are the pros and cons of the freedom of the press. Quora, 2017

FPT
12/03/18

ctto
Rappler logo, photo from Rappler
Source: Francisco P. Tranquilino