MANILA – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Wednesday directed the National Bureau of Investigation to probe possible violations by online news site Rappler of the 1987 Charter and other laws in connection with a finding by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Rappler had allowed a foreign entity to exert “negative control” over it.
In an order, Aguirre said the NBI, “through Director Dante A. Gierran, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case buildup over possible violations of the Constitution and laws.”
The DOJ chief also directed NBI to file, “if the evidence warrants,” appropriate cases “against those found liable.”
The SEC on Monday voided Rappler’s registration as a business entity over such alleged violations of the Constitution, a move that Rappler – and subsequently certain media and human rights groups – denounced as a blow to press freedom, because it effectively shuts down the website.
Malacañang, however, said it had no hand in the action of the SEC, which it described as a collegial body of competent people with no political agenda.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who said he taught constitution law for 15 years, also gave unsolicited advice: Rappler’s journalists can continue blogging and thus there is no curtailment of press freedom. However, he did acknowledge that as bloggers they may need to secure prior accreditation.