In August 2022, members and staff of a religious missionary organization were charged for violating the anti-terrorism financing law. The Department of Justice filed 55 counts for violating Sec. 8(ii) of Republic Act No. 10168 against 16 individuals, including some nuns and a human rights lawyer, who serve the church-based organization, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). The Department alleged that the RMP provided funds to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. Prior to this, the Anti-Money Laundering Council ordered the freezing of RMP’s bank accounts for alleged terrorist financing.
On August 11, 2022, a preliminary injunction was granted by a court temporarily enjoining the enforcement of a June 2022 order issued in a memorandum by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The order required Internet Service Providers to block access to websites allegedly operated by affiliates and supporters of groups designated as terrorist organizations. The NTC memorandum was issued upon the request of the National Security Council. Among the websites blocked were those managed by independent media outfits, religious groups, and indigenous peoples’ organizations. Alipato Media Center, owner of the news website bulatlat.com, sought nullification of the NTC memorandum in July 2022. The preliminary injunction granted to Alipato enjoins the NTC from enforcing its order for blockage of access to bulatlat.com while the trial court hears the nullification petition.
Meanwhile, in July 2022, the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction for cyberlibel of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. The appellate court also increased the prison term imposed by the trial court by eight months and 20 days. Ressa and Santos were found guilty of cyberlibel in June 2020. The case was initiated by a businessman mentioned in a 2012 Rappler report on vehicles used by former Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment proceedings. Ressa and Santos have sought reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision.
The Court decision came after the Securities and Exchange Commission reaffirmed in June 2022 its decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler for alleged violation of the ownership requirement of media corporations under the Philippine Constitution. Section 11, Article XVI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution requires that mass media be wholly owned by Filipinos.