THE Duterte administration on Wednesday continued to gang up on online news site Rappler, whose incorporation papers it revoked earlier this week over alleged violations of the Anti-Dummy Law.
After President Rodrigo Duterte accused Rappler of peddling “fake news,” Palace spokesman said reporters for the online news portal could still be bloggers after the Securities and Exchange Commission rules with finality to end its corporate existence.
“They can be bloggers. Maria Ressa can continue to blog. Pia Ranada can continue to blog. But they might have to get accreditation as bloggers, because they cannot continue conducting their business as Rappler,” Roque said, referring to Rappler CEO and their Palace reporter.
“All bloggers, in order to have access to Malacañang, will have to seek accreditation,” he said.
In a radio interview, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar singled out Ranada for continually criticizing him and ignoring the good work that was being done by his office.
Roque continued to defend the administration from allegations that it is curtailing the freedom of the press, saying that the Duterte’s threats were simply “an exercise of free speech on the part of a President who feels he has not been getting the riht kind of treatment from the media.”
On Tuesday night, the National Press Club of the Philippines echoed the Palace position and defended the SEC ruling, and said the legal troubles faced by Rappler do not constitute media repression.
This was in sharp contrast to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), and the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) which all condemned the act.
“[T]he SEC finding is quite clear: that Rappler Inc., has indeed violated the law when it allowed the entry of foreign investors and also allowed, specifically, Omidyar Network Fund LLC, to have control on ‘corporate matters’ of Rappler based on its own submissions to the SEC,” NPC president Paul Gutierrez said.
The NPC said journalists can continue to criticize the government—even in the light of Duterte’s everyday attacks against the media.
“To say that the fate of one media entity found to have run afoul with the law translates to media repression in the country is stretching the argument a bit too much,” they added.
Gutierrez’s predecessor as NPC president, Joel Egco, is an undersecretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office while Benny Antiporda, another past NPC president, is a board member at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
Responding to Duterte’s attacks, Rappler said that those who manufacture “fake news” were those from his own backyard.
“The President knows who produces fake news in the Philippines, and it certainly is not Rappler. He doesn’t have to look far from where he sits in Malacañang,” the news site said in a statement.
While the government did not “physically stop” Rappler from delivering news, what it did was “try to attack us from an economic angle,” Ressa said.
On Tuesday, Duterte said media should criticize the administration “with moderation.”
“Do it with moderation and do not use words that tend to cast aspersion on the character,” Duterte said. “And just because we are in government, they think—these media—hey think we are already hungry for money.”
Duterte, who claimed he was already used to criticisms of the media, said that the media should be careful in reporting about public officials “because they have children and friends.”
The President said he considered the media his ally, except for Inquirer, Rappler and ABS-CBN.
Duterte also asked what the fuss was over his tirades against the media.
“Look, why should you complain if I am critical against media? Are you not critical of me? If you criticize, it’s okay, but not if we do it?” he said.
The Justice Department on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to assist them in determining if there were any other violations committed by Rappler.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed that the NBI will investigate other violations that Rappler may have possibly committed. With Rey E. Requejo