The National Bureau of Investigation has summoned Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and two others to appear before its Cybercrime Division in connection with a complaint filed by a businessman regarding an article the news site published in 2012.
Also subjects of subpoenas signed by Attorney Vicente De Guzman, NBI deputy director for investigation services, are former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr. and businessman Benjamin Bitanga.
Bitanga is the owner of Dolphin Fire, a company that has shares in Rappler Holdings, Inc.
Ressa, Santos and Bitanga are scheduled to appear at the NBI on January 22.
Wilfredo Keng filed the complaint for a violation of the Cybercrime Law because of the article "CJ using SUVs of 'controversial' businessmen" that Santos wrote and that Rappler published on May 29, 2012.
Rappler reported that the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was then facing an impeachment trial, had been using a black SUV whose plate number was allegedly issued to Keng.
The news website also reported about Keng’s alleged involvement in human trafficking and smuggling.
Apart from a cybercrime complaint, the NBI is also looking into Rappler’s possible criminal liabilities after the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked its incorporation papers for supposedly violating the constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of mass media.
According to the SEC, Rappler violated the Constitution and laws when it allowed Omidyar Network, one of the Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR) holders of Rappler, to exercise control over its corporate affairs as provided for in their internal agreement, in exchange for a fund infusion of $1 million.
The media outfit said it would contest the decision before the courts. —Virgil Lopez/NB/KG, GMA News