Malacañang has barred the reporter of Rappler from covering President Rodrigo Duterte and Palace briefings following a decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission to order the shutdown of the online news organization for violating the constitutional restriction against foreign ownership.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Rappler has lost its accreditation with Malacañang because the SEC ruling was executory.
“They should cover first or they should fix first their personality as a local corporation,” Medialdea said when asked if Rappler reporter Pia Ranada will be allowed to continue covering Palace events and briefings.
On Tuesday, Ranada was barred by a member of the Presidential Security Group from entering Gate 2, but was later allowed to enter the Palace grounds after members of the Palace media affairs office and officers of the Malacañang Press Corps intervened.
Medialdea said Duterte was merely implementing the SEC order amid concerns that the revocation of Ranada’s accreditation was a form of punitive action for reporting stories that are seen as critical of the administration.
“No, the President is just following the order because the SEC decision is executory,” the Palace official said.
“If they want, they can seek accreditation from Focap [Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines],” Medialdea added.
Duterte’s decision to implement the SEC ruling caught other Palace officials unaware, including presidential spokesman Harry Roque who said said he does not know about the order barring Ranada.
“I have to clarify that since Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea just issued a verbal statement, that pending appeal, you will be able to cover here in Malacañang,” Roque told Ranada, who asked what was the reason behind her not being allowed to cover Malacañang.
Rappler has appealed the SEC decision before the Court of Appeals.
“We will continue to allow you to cover in the Malacañang while your appeal with the Court of Appeals is pending,” Roque told Ranada during a press briefing.
However, Roque said if the order was to revoke Rappler’s license, Ranada will have to move to Focap.
Roque said Rappler can still cover Malacañang because press briefings are televised live.
The opposition Liberal Party called on the Palace to stop harassing journalists who are perceived to be critical of the administration, saying the media should be allowed to do their job without undue pressure.
“Empowered journalists are crucial in our fight against disinformation and fake news. Malacanang must learn to respect dissenting views. Enough of bullying those who disagree with the administration,” said Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, Liberal Party president, said Malacañang’s move against its media critics could be perceived as a curtailment of press freedom, which was prevalent during the martial law era.