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What’s the real deal with Omidyar? Mareng Winnie wants Rappler to clarify foreign ownership

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Even former socioeconomic planning secretary Winnie Monsod believes the online multimedia site Rappler has some explaining to do regarding its foreign investors.

In her January 20 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Monsod said the Securities and Exchange Commission may have gone after Rappler because the Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) it issued were problematic compared to what other media networks offered foreign investors.

PDRs are financial instruments that allow foreign investors to put money in a Filipino company without having control over it.

“The investors in ABS-CBN and GMA-7 are passive investors, but the SEC thinks the investors in Rappler are more than passive because they have powers that the PDR holders of ABS-CBN and GMA-7 do not have. That is what Rappler has to clarify to the SEC,” Monsod said.

“Rappler, please dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s,” she added.

SEC revoked Rappler’s articles of incorporation because it violated the foreign ownership restrictions in the Constitution for media companies.

The regulator found particularly problematic the provision in the PDRs held by Omidyar Network, which stated that the fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar must have “prior approval” when it comes to changes in the website’s by-laws or articles of incorporation.

Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa has decried the ruling as an attack on press freedom and vowed to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.