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Roque to Ressa, Rappler: You’re not special, journalists should be first to follow law

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque slammed Rappler and its boss, Maria Ressa, for their priggishness in claiming that the closure order on the web-only news site was the handiwork of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In an interview with ANC’s Karen Davila, Roque said Rappler violated the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in media by selling Philippine depository rights (PDR) to eBay found Pierre Omidyar and Ressa thought she could get away with it.

“She wanted to skirt prohibition and still enable her to raise funds from aboard. But she was wrong, you can’t question the jurisdiction of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission),” said Roque.

In a 29-page decision issued January 11, SEC ruled that Rappler, Inc. and its controlling shareholder Rappler Holdings Corp. were “liable for violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media enforceable through rules and laws within the mandate of the Commission.”

Roque said Ressa was out of line when she declared that Rappler was being singled out by the government.

“My point is you’re a news agency and you will exercise public trust. You criticize people when they violate the laws of Constitution, why can’t you comply with the Constitution? What makes you so special or you want a special rule for yourself because you are in the profession of journalism. Should not journalists, like lawyers, be the first to comply with the law?” said Roque.