The Alliance of Independence Journalists (AJI) Indonesia expresses serious concern over the order of the Philippine government to shut down Rappler news website. This is a serious threat to press freedom, not only in the Philippines but across the region.
Launched in 2012, Rappler has earned a reputation for being a trustworthy and critical news organization through its various reports. It stood out with its coverage of the brutal “war on drugs” by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration that killed thousands. The war on drugs gained international attention, especially from human right advocates who believe the policy is a violation of basic human rights. Rappler has been consistently critical of the policy and its implementation, and has proven itself a credible source of information not only for Filipinos but also for the rest of the world.
It is important for the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia to have a free press and free speech, which will encourage transparency and accountability in government. Blocking public access to information is a serious violation and a major setback for democracy and open society. Therefore, the decision of the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the operating license of Rappler is unacceptable.
We urge the Philippines government to withdraw the SEC decision and take urgent steps to protect freedom of the press and put a stop to any efforts to silence the media.
We also ask the Philippine government to ensure that responses to any legal violations are proportional, and to balance the Constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media companies with the more fundamental provision protecting free speech and the press.
Through this statement, we also express our support to all of our fellow journalists in Rappler. We hope that they will be able to continue their work for the people of Philippines and the rest of the world. We also call on organizations and individuals across the region to show their support for Rappler as part of a collective action to maintain press freedom in Southeast Asia.
AJI Chairman, Abdul Manan +62818-948-316 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of International Division, Ratna Ariyanti +62818-477-455 Email email@example.com