CALLING his appointment a “big mistake,” die-hard supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte are asking Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque to resign for apparently not fulfilling his metaphor to throw hollow blocks against the President’s critics.
In a related development, Communications Assistant Secretary Ester Margaux Uson asked Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to take off digital news company Rappler from the roster of accredited news media covering the Palace and instead place it in her social media turf.
“UMALIS KA DIYAN. AT HUWAG KA NANG UMASA SA 2019,” Rey Joseph Nieto, the man behind Thinking Pinoy, said in a lengthy Facebook all caps post on Monday night (Get out of there. And don’t be hopeful about 2019.)
Calling Roque a coward for balking at his request to throw a “hollow block” against Pia Ranada, a reporter of online news portal Rappler, Nieto said the Palace spokesman had no right to “order” around pro-Duterte bloggers like himself.
The barrage of criticism against Roque came amid allegations he was curtailing the freedom of speech of Duterte supporters while siding with his “legitimate media friends,” when he vowed to lecture hordes of online supporters about the virtues of journalism and the role of mainstream media to constitutional freedoms.
Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday said he would file libel cases against Thinking Pinoy blogger RJ Nieto and for allegedly circulating “fake news” that he was a drug lord.
He said his lawyers were already preparing the libel case for peddling the fake news like President (Donald) Trump allegedly called him “little narco.”
He did not say when he would file his complaint.
“It was clear in the US government website on the presidential pronouncements and interviews, it’s not there [that Pres. Trump called him little narco]. So that’s indeed a lie. It’s a propaganda operation that I will counter,” Trillanes told reporters during the “Kapihan sa Senado.”
Trillanes said he would also file a libel case against Manila Times columnist Yen Makabenta.
In a Palace news briefing, however, Roque seemed undeterred despite getting the ire of the so-called “Ka-DDS.”
“I stated what I think is right, and I stated what I think is true. I am a spokesperson, I deal with the Malacañang Press Corps and I have long been an advocate of freedom of expression. I leave it at that,” Roque said, adding he would address their concerns to the President.
“What I will do is I will facilitate receipt of this information by the President. I will tell the President that Mr. Nieto has said that I should be removed. I will relay that to the President,” he added.
The former lawmaker also addressed the perception of Duterte’s supporters that he was addressing the needs of the media. With Macon Ramos-Araneta
“I speak as a spokesperson of the President to all Filipinos especially to those who, I believe, should have a better understanding of what the President is doing and what the President is saying,” Roque said.
“The President really does not need a spokesperson to speak to his own followers, die-hard followers,” he added.
Roque denied that he was depriving the social bloggers of their freedoms, as he stressed that free expression was vital in achieving a democratic state.
“We cannot have a democratic state if citizens are not able to freely discuss issues that concern them in a rational, informed, and peaceable manner,” he said.
“Free expression rests on this assumption: that we can all engage in a deliberative and rational discourse, to arrive at a moment of solidarity, or at least, of understanding, the conflicting views notwithstanding,” he added.
Also on Tuesday, Uson falsely claimed that since Rappler had no counterpart in the traditional media (print, broadcast or radio), Andanar should reclassify the news site as a social media organization.
In a one-page letter, Uson requested Andanar that the online news portal, which has a reporter accredited to the Malacañang Press Corps, should be placed under her office that covers “Social Media.”
“I respectfully request that Rappler be reclassified and moved from Malacañang Press Corp (sic) to Social Media,” Uson wrote in a letter dated Nov. 7.
“This should fall under the rules of accreditation administered by my office,” Uson said.
The Malacañang Press Corps, however, whose ranks include reporters covering the Presidential Palace, remains unattached to any government agency and is not under government control, as stated in its by-laws.
It only coordinates with the Presidential Communications Operations Office in the conduct of presidential activities, as part of Malacañang’s continuing commitment to press freedom.
Under Article 2, Section 4 of MPC’s bylaws, “For internet based media, the reporter must represent a website affiliated with a duly recognized print/radio or TV agency, or an established online news organization with regular deployment of personnel in major beats.”
Earlier, Pilipino Star Ngayon columnist Al Pedroche apologized for writing in his column that claimed Trump called Trillanes as “little narco,” saying the article was meant as a laughing matter.
But Trillanes said he would not include Pedroche in his complaint since he had already apologized.
In his Pilipino Star Ngayon Column “Fake news inupakan ni Sen. Trillanes,” Pedroche admitted he was responsible for the “Little Narco met with Sen. Marco Rubio” article which Trillanes dismissed as fake news.
Pedroche’s column was picked up by another Philippine Star columnist Mary Ann Reyes in her opinion piece “A major embarrassment,” which was taken down on Nov. 3 as the “supposed information cited in the column has been disputed by various other sources.”
“Yes, that columnist had apologized and we appreciate that, so I welcomed that but that Nieto, who shared it, was really determined, because people like him, they’re like their boss Mr. Duterte, it’s hard for them to admit their mistakes,” related Trillanes.
In September, Trillanes filed criminal charges–including cyberlibel–against another pro-administration blogger Uson for spreading “fake news” that he owned offshore bank accounts and for other alleged unlawful acts. With Macon Ramos-Araneta