Gets new foreign funds
IF this isn’t a case of American Filipino Maria Ressa having a shameful sense of impunity, I don’t know what is.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in January 2018 ruled that Rappler since it took in investments from a US entity Omidyar Network violated the Constitution as well as laws (even during the Commonwealth period) banning any foreign money in Philippine mass media.
(Rappler also took money from another US firm, North Base Media, with the investments of the two totaling roughly P100 million.)
The decision was made by four of the five SEC commissioners (except for Blas James Viterbo, who didn’t take part for unexplained reasons), headed by its chairman Teresita Herbosa, appointed to the post by the late president Aquino 3rd way back in 2011 that ended June 2018. The SEC made the decision on the basis of a special investigation that took more than a year to complete. It, therefore, ordered Rappler and what the SEC called its “alter ego” Rappler Holdings dissolved, which means they should stop undertaking any business, as their licenses have been revoked.
Rappler pooh-poohed the decision and first claimed that it didn’t issue shares to the US investor, Omidyar Holdings, but only so-called Philippine Depositary Receipts. When the SEC threw out that justification, Ressa changed tack and claimed that Omidyar had donated the funds to its 12 Filipino managers. Sources, however, claimed that Omidyar refused to pay the required donor’s tax and asked them to pay it, which one manager said she couldn’t afford to.
The SEC two weeks ago threw out that excuse: “The donation, just like the waiver, was apparently an afterthought carefully calculated to ensure that Rappler, a violator of the Constitution and statutes, is salvaged and allowed to carry out operations as a mass media entity.”
What Rappler had kept secret however is that as soon as the SEC ruled Omidyar’s investment unconstitutional, Ressa lobbied another US firm to invest in it. Given on Jan. 14, 2019, it was in the form of a $150,000 loan to Rappler from MDIF Media Finance owned by American entities but based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, according to its 2019 financial statement submitted to the SEC.
Rappler intends to secure the same amount of loan every year to finance its operations, as Rappler’s other major owners, Ressa herself, property tycoon Benjamin Bitanga, Manny Ayala and one Benjamin Y. So either are no longer able or willing to throw money at the losing venture.
Rappler Holdings’ 2019 financial statement described the loan as an “Omnibus Loan and Security Agreement.” While I haven’t seen the loan document itself, a “security agreement” is a document which categorically provides that “in the event that the borrower defaults, the pledged collateral can be seized by the lender and sold.”
But this is exactly what the Philippine Depositary Receipts that Rappler cloaked its investments from Omidyar and North Base Media with in 2015 are, and which the SEC ruled was still violative of the Constitution. That is, in the case of this loan, the shares of Rappler, a media firm, would be owned by a foreigner, if it defaults, which would violate the Constitution. The SEC should investigate this news foreign funding that Rappler has received.
MDIF was initially funded in 1995 by Hungarian-born George Soros who has had a reputation of bankrolling media entities in nations deemed “authoritarian” by the US, or unfriendly to it. It was banned from the USSR and several other nations in 2016. In its website, MDIF explained that it extends “debt and equity financing to independent media in a range of countries where access to free and independent news and information is under threat.”
Ressa was able to get MIDF to fund Rappler by claiming that the Philippine press was not free. Indeed the MDIF website in its state of the press worldwide, lists the country’s press as “not free.”
What kind of horrible person is this? She gets funding by portraying the country as a dictatorship without a free press, in effect portraying her colleagues in media as cowering in fear?
She was an incompetent editor as she failed to see that an article calling a businessman a murderer which Rappler posted was libelous, with the trial court convicting her and the writer. Her lawyers made the rather astounding claim that she isn’t a hands-on editor, and that she didn’t see the libelous article.
She was an incompetent CEO since she was either ignorant or had such a sense of impunity that she got foreign investments for Rappler, which is violative of the Constitution.
Ressa’s incompetence as CEO got Rappler in deep financial straits: The Bureau of Internal Revenue issued on April 15, 2019 a final assessment notice asking it to pay P772 million in tax liabilities for 2015.
With the deep quagmire she has brought herself and Rappler into, she has tried to wiggle out of it by lying to the world that she is being persecuted by an authoritarian state because of her outfit’s unfavorable coverage of it. But other than innuendos and its horrendous false exaggerated numbers way back in 2016 on the casualties of President Duterte’s war against drugs, Rappler has never really come out with any damaging article on this administration. Ressa’s two or three articles (on trolls and on a supposed al-Qaida attack on Resorts World casinos) were so inane that nobody took them seriously.
Because of Ressa’s incompetence as a CEO, Rappler has been hemorrhaging, with a capital deficit of P12 million for each year of 2018 and 2019, with an estimated P20 million in the red last year. The US Deep State’s success in getting the Nobel Committee to award her the Nobel Peace prize hasn’t made her, as the Americans expected, a credible, articulate spokesperson railing against Duterte and presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Many suspect that one or two Yellow oligarchs secretly continue to fund it though, with Ressa herself telling them that with Leni Robredo winning in 2022, Rappler would be dominating the internet news media.
Facing a jail term for libel, I suspect though she’ll be fleeing to the US after the elections, abandoning Rappler, and claiming to the world that she is being prosecuted by the new president, which that news website always refers to as “the dictator’s son.” Don’t pity her though: With her $570,000 share of the Nobel prize, she can retire to her home in New York.
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