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San Beda’s Ranhilio Aquino backs SEC’s decision on Rappler: Attempt to disguise foreign ownership is obvious

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San Beda Graduate School of Law dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino believes there’s legal basis behind the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to cancel online multimedia site Rappler’s articles of incorporation.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Aquino said Rappler Holdings, which issued Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to foreign investors Omidyar Network and North Base Media, is not really distinct from Rappler Inc.

Aside from holding 98.84 percent of Rappler Inc.s’ shares, Aquino said Rappler Holdings has the same set of officers as the other company, namely: Maria Ressa as president, Jose Maria Bitanga as treasurer and Jose Hofileña as secretary.

As discovered by the SEC, Aquino said the PDRs issued by Rappler Holdings to Omidyar Network contained the clause requiring the website to seek the foreign investor’s approval on corporate matters.

“Clearly this meant DILUTION of the constitutionally-required all Filipino control,” he said.

“Rappler therefore attempted to disguise foreign ownership by creating Rappler Holdings. However, Rappler Holdings is clearly the alter ego of Rappler — as the holdings and the roster of officers show, as well as the acts by which Rappler Holdings issued PDRs covering shares of Rappler,” Aquino added.

The San Beda dean said he is confident about backing SEC’s decision since he has taught Corporation and Securities Law.

“In summary: Through its acts — which it thought clever — Rappler provided the government with an excuse or a legal pretext ON SOLID LEGAL GROUND to cause the demise of its corporate existence,” Aquino said.