Appeals court upholds ruling vs Rappler

March 11, 2019

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has denied Rappler’s motion for reconsideration which sought to reverse the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission revoking its registration for violation of the foreign ownership rule.

In a 25-page resolution, promulgated last Feb.21, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Rappler and Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) for its failure to present new arguments.

The CA stood firm in its decision in July last year that upheld the SEC’s order dated Jan.11, 2018 which cancelled the certificate of incorporation of RHC for alleged violation of the foreign equity restrictions in mass media under the 1987 Constitution.

“After a careful scrutiny of the instant motion, this Court finds that it presents no compelling reason to justify the reconsideration of this Court’s decision dated 26 July 2018. The arguments raised by petitioners are essentially the same as those that have already been discussed and were exhaustively passed upon in this Court’s decision,” read the ruling.

“In summary, a motion for reconsideration grounded on arguments already submitted to the court and found to be without merit may be denied summarily, as it would be a useless ritual for this Court to reiterate itself. Here, petitioners did not raise any new matter of issue in its motion. Accordingly, this Court finds no cogent justification to reconsider its decision dated 26 July 2018,” it stressed.

The CA reiterated its finding that the SEC did not violate the constitutional right to due process of RHC in revoking the firm’s business registration – contrary to the allegations of petitioner.

”While there is no denying that a full compliance with the procedure under the 2016 SEC Rules was not observed by the SEC, a substantial compliance with the requirements of procedural due process was clearly accorded to the petitioners. Therefore, the Court maintains that the assailed SEC en banc decision cannot be annulled on the ground that petitioners were denied due process,” it stressed.

The court likewise reiterated that Rappler is a mass media entity covered by the ban on foreign ownership under the Constitution as well as by the requirement of 100-percent Filipino ownership in terms of both right to receive dividends and right to vote under the full beneficial ownership test.

“Therefore, applying the Full Beneficial Ownership Test, RHC cannot claim that it fully owns the Rappler shares since it does not exclusively exercise the right to vote on the Rappler shares. By virtue of clause 12.2.2, Omidyar Network is granted the power to direct the voting on the Rappler shared,” it explained.

Lastly, the CA refused to resolve the issue on whether or not the supervening donation made by Omidyar Network of all its Philippine Depository Receipts to the staff of Rappler effectively cured the defect in registration of RHC, which it remanded to the SEC in its previous ruling. #