Rough cuts | Watch list on the national scene

THIS most recent development in the Rappler case now elevated to the Court of Appeals is worth watching. This is the donation by Omidyar Network of its investments in Rappler Philippines covered by Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) to the different Filipino managers of the online media group.

It may be recalled that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) withdrew the incorporation of Rappler on findings that it has violated the Constitutional provision on the 100 percent Filipino ownership of media organizations. Despite claims by Rappler executives that Omidyar’s investments do not in any way constitute ownership of any percentage of the online media, the SEC believes that their justification is merely an attempt to circumvent the prohibition.

So why is Omidyar Network donating its investments to the Filipino managers if it is standing on solid ground as to the status of the money it has sunk into the capital base of Rappler Philippines? Omidyar, according to reports from the Capital region, did not give the details of the supposed donation.

Without details of the transaction on the claimed donation what would be put in strict scrutiny will be the subsequent action of Rappler Philippines, especially by those who are supposed to be recipients of the Omidyar’s “generosity.”

It is imperative that Rappler should have the decency to disclose the conditions of the donation because it is clear that the intention is, again, to circumvent the provision of the Constitution. Yes, no one is so dumb not to understand that by accepting the donation of Omidyar Network the Filipino donees become the new owners of the PDRs. Thus, they now are the new investors and in the process effectively convert Rappler into a 100 percent Filipino-owned corporation.

Unfortunately for Rappler Philippines this move came as a consequence of the withdrawal by the SEC of its incorporation. Therefore, such move could easily be interpreted as a strategy to escape the possible affirmation by the Appellate Court of the corporate regulator’s revocation of Rappler’s incorporation.

We even believe that by perfecting the donation, both Rappler Philippines and Omidyar could in the process, be unknowingly admitting their violation. Thus, they would end up making the job of the CA much easier.

-oOo-

What is happening to President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban Party? It appears that while almost every politician in the country is gravitating towards its vortex there are known original and founding members who are being eased out of or getting away from the loop.

In a rally middle of last week in Quezon City we saw familiar PDP-Laban faces taking the stage to present the situation of the President’s party as they see it. One notable person we saw captured on television was Davao City’s Cesar Ledesma. We know Cesar is one of those who started the Party’s organizational activities in Mindanao together with the late Davao City OIC mayor Zafiro Respicio and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr.

From the speeches we heard it was clear that they let out their frustration on the PDP-Laban Party principle’s deterioration. And they blame it on House Speaker Alvarez’s arrogation of power in taking in new party members. They pointed to the mass oath taking even if those sworn in have not undergone the most important acceptance requirement, that of attending a seminar on the PDP-Laban’s principles and the causes that it is espousing.

In the speeches of the disgruntled PDP leaders the wholesale acceptance by the Speaker of new members without the benefit of strict vetting plus the doing away of the seminar requirement has led to the affiliation of two mayors who are among those included in the President’s list of narco-politicians.

For his part though, Alvarez has claimed that those who are making the noise questioning his move of strengthening the PDP-Laban are already long-ousted from their membership in the President’s Party.

From where we are perched we can see this schism in the PDP-Laban as foreboding of undesirable things to come in the President’s administration. For what good will a breakup of President Duterte’s party bring to the many ambitious programs now being pursued by the Mindanaoan President? Will it hasten the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the planned Charter Change leading to a shift to a Federal form of government?

And for now we can see that the President, even if he is the titular head of the PDP-Laban Party, cannot do much to arrest the growing chasm in his political organization. With Alvarez having a Gordian control of the House he and his new band can “hostage” many if not all of the President’s programs and projects. Isn’t it that he Lower House has the power over the purse?

Of course the number and the influence wielded by those who belong to the “ousted” original members could not also be underestimated by the President.

Given this situation failure by the titular Party head to act on the breakup could make or unmake his administration. But knowing who in his Party are involved in the rift, definitely the President might just have to wade in dangerous and treacherous waters.

Posted in Opinion