May 15, 2017: Bitanga: The property and mining magnate behind Rappler

May 15, 2017:     Bitanga: The property and mining magnate behind Rappler

LOW-KEY property and mining billionaire Benjamin Bitanga is the Internet-only news site  Rappler’s owner, its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate, and which the magnate himself has confirmed.

This was a revelation to me, as I always suspected that the super-billionaire Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was behind Rappler, as he had been close to its CEO Maria Ressa. I had also thought Rappler’s chairman Manuel Ayala was the Zobel de Ayala’s distant relative (no relation, it turns out) and that his telecoms firm Globe Telecom logically needed a content provider, not to mention a major Philippine elite’s need to have a stake in media.

Rappler, which went online in 2012, had been hugely supportive of the Benigno Aquino 3rd administration, most probably due to the yellowish leanings of Ressa and its other top editors. As such, Rappler has been extremely critical of President Duterte and his government.

A Rappler article in March even tried to besmirch the reputation of Duterte’s most trusted aide, Christopher Go, by implying that he protected a drug lord’s fugitive nephew_—when he merely told the suspect’s mother through a text message to convince his son to surrender. (“Peter Lim relatives reach out to Bong Go in road rage case,” March 20, 2017)

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