Filipino Bloggers Rally to Defend Rappler News Site

Black Friday protest in Quezon City, Philippines on January 19, 2018. Photo by Therese Reyes, shared on Twitter.

Filipino bloggers are rallying to defend press freedom against moves by Rodrigo Duterte's administration to shut down Philippine-based news website Rappler.

On January 11, the Securities and Exchange Commission cancelled the company’s license to operate as a business, claiming that it has violated rules against foreign ownership of media companies.

Although Rappler has received some financial support the US-based Omidyar Network, it is fully is owned and operated by Filipinos who reside in the Philippines. Nevertheless, President Duterte insinuated in his July 2017 State of the Nation Address that Rappler is “fully owned by Americans.”

Supporters held “Black Friday” protests on January 19, condemning the attacks against the besieged news site and demanding stronger protections for media freedom.  Members of mainstream media, campus journalists, activists, and press freedom advocates gathered in Quezon City and Bacolod City to raise their voices.

On the same week the SEC revoked Rappler's license, the country's National Bureau of Investigation also summoned company CEO Maria Ressa, along with a reporter and one of the company's corporate owners. The investigation is the result of a claim by businessman Wilfredo Keng, who alleges that Rappler committed “cyber libel” in a 2012 article that showed evidence that Keng had been involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling. Rappler has vowed to challenge these claims against the company.

On January 19, Filipino bloggers collectively wrote and signed a statement expressing their commitment to freedom of expression, and their solidarity with Rappler. Initiated by Mom Blogger Noemi Dado, the statement is part of an outpouring of support by Filipino social media users and netizens for Rappler and in defense of press freedom.

More bloggers are invited to join the signatories by signing up at Here is the statement's text and initial signatories:

Statement: Bloggers for Freedom

We concerned Filipino bloggers stand for the rights to free expression and to free speech. And our first responsibility is to protect these rights.

We thus stand with Rappler, its right to exist, the rights of its working journalists and contributors, and the rights of its community of readers.

We stand against moves to silence and scare journalists, bloggers and media practitioners just because the President and his ardent supporters dislike their news and views.

Now is a time for making choices amid battles between truth and lies, debate and dissonance, democracy and dictatorship.

We sign our names here to tell everyone we have made a choice. We are bloggers for freedom.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado
Tonyo Cruz
Dale Bacar
Marcelle Fabie
Myk Mykapalaran Cruz
Rod Magaru
Ely Valendez
Alex Lapa
Tess Termulo
Zena Bernardo
Jover Laurio
James Romer V. Velina
Ramon Nocon
Flow Galindez
Helga Weber
Mc Richard Viana Paglicawan
Raymond Palatino
Loi Landicho
Saul de Jesus
Karlo Mongaya
Ricky Rivera
Mark Will Mayo Magallanes
Eyriche Cortez
Julius Mariveles
Yusuf Ledesma
RJ Barrete
Dino Manrique
Peachy Tan
Rhadem Camlian Morados
Julius Rocas
Jon Limjap
Markku Seguerra
Jam Ancheta
Estan Cabigas
Enrico Dee
Acee Vitangcol
Stefan Punongbayan
Jesus Falcis
Hancel Reyes
Czarina Maye Noche
JM Mariano
Reginald Agsalon
John Clifford Sibayan
Jane Uymatiao
Johnn Mendoza
Carlos Celdran
Christian Melanie
Jann Medina
Carlo Arvisu
Inday Espina Varona
Eugene Alvin Villar
Melo Villareal
Brian Ong
JM Tuazon
Fritz Tentativa
Fitz Villafuerte
Tina Antonio
Mykel Andrada
Reynaldo Pagsolingan Jr.
Renz Daniel de Vera
Alfred John Tayona
Jed Lariego
Judith Albano
Maritel Ledesma
John Paul Manahan
Vencer Crisostomo
John Phillips Bengero
Leo D. Cloma
Kassy Pajarillo
Dianne Salonga
Joseph Gonzales
Bimbo Isidro
Alan de Luzuriaga
Acielle Angeli Garcera
Maria Jose
Nath Hermosa
Mavic Conde
Anton Deleon
Pepe Cabrera
Jorel Alfuente
Yshmael Cabana
Allandale Antenero
Consie Lozano
John Philip C. Bravo
Eduardo Joven
Claire Madarang
Randell Tiongson
Michelle Ressa Aventajado
Jim Paredes
Didi Tiu Tang
Menard Osena
Oji Sanchez

Note: Filipino Global Voices community members Karlo Mongaya, Julius Rocas and Mong Palatino (Global Voices’ Southeast Asia editor) are signatories of the statement.

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