Roque was reacting to a joint statement by United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard and two other envoys who have expressed grave concern about the government’s move to revoke Rappler’s license to operate.
“Allegation that it’s about press freedom is fake news. It’s about avarice for money that violates the Constitution and the laws of the land,” Roque said.
“Let me know if any of the journalist of Rappler has been prevented from reporting or if they’ve been censored,” he added.
The three human rights experts urged the Philippine government “to return to its path of protection and protection of independent media, especially those covering issues in the public interest.” David Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Michael Forst, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders were the two other signatories in the statement.
Roque, however, said he would only give credence to the UN envoys “if they can show which outfit has been shut down, who has been prohibited to report, when there was either censorship or prior restraint.”
He asserted that the Palace was not behind the SEC ruling on Rappler, saying it was a decision of the securities watchdog “manned by Aquino appointees.”
He said the SEC discovered Rappler’s “money-making scheme” has violated the Constitution.
The SEC earlier revoked the registration of Rappler for violating the constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership in mass media. It found that the Philippine depositary receipts (PDRs) issued to Omidyar Network Fund carried provisions for “negative control” or the right to veto certain corporate actions by Rappler.
Rappler has blasted the SEC decision as pure government harassment.