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Marcos spox vows better media access as he screens questions to address

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The team of media-shy candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the presumptive president-elect, on Wednesday promised better access to the government for media but not quite yet. 

At the campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong, Rodriguez pointedly ignored Rappler reporter Lian Buan's question on how Marcos would face the contempt order issued against him by US courts when he becomes president and chief diplomat. Rodriguez refused to look at the reporter and instead trained his eyes on the camera and said "next question."

Buan later tried again with a different question — on whether Marcos might scrap President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation of a National Day of Protest every September 21, the publicly-acknowledged anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the candidate's father.

Rodriguez, at the time, was waiting for a copy of a statement he was to read. Despite the dead air, the spokesperson ignored Buan.

Marcos team to check PCOO protocols

Marcos has been generally averse to media since the campaign. His team said they prefer one-on-one interviews over forums and debates, where they said candidates are "pitted against each other." 

But even with that format, they have been picky: Opting out of a government-organized panel interview and participating in events by the SMNI Network, a media network owned by self-styled pastor and Marcos endorser Apollo Quiboloy.

"We have to find out first, what's their current setup and if it's working. Then I don’t think we have to tweak it but if it needs some improvement, absolutely we will improve it to let our friends from the media have more access to government and governance," he told reporters.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office handles media accreditation and access under the Duterte administration, which has also preferred sticking to state-run media. 

Rodriguez said Marcos will be meeting with his transition team on Wednesday afternoon. On their agenda is the canvassing of votes and potential members of the Marcos Jr. Cabinet.

Marcos met the press at the UniTeam campaign headquarters on Monday to deliver a short statement to his supporters. He said that while he acknowledges that counting is ongoing, his gratitude to them could no longer wait. Reporters covering the brief speech were told not to ask any questions after.

Even at campaign sorties, ambush interviews with Marcos were few and often done under setups that were less than ideal. Getting a quote from the presidential frontrunner would entail getting past a throng of security aides and, at times, supporters chanting "Protect BBM." 

Vlogger access?

Vloggers and influencers were given their own accreditation IDs so they could trail the UniTeam campaign along with the media, who often had more restrictions on access to candidates.

Will the country see vloggers at the Malacañang press briefing during a second Marcos administration? The team may be open to it.

"If that's the set up, I don't see any reason why we should change it," Rodriguez said.

"If it's not the set up now, I think it's a good point that you [reporter] have raised. Maybe we should also consider the vloggers because there already has been a transition from media that we used to know, there was a shift to digital platforms," he added partly in Filipino.

The Palace floated the idea of accrediting vloggers in 2017. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in August that year that those with at least 5,000 followers can cover Duterte and the PCOO accredited bloggers and social media influencers to cover the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting that year.

Journalists, unlike vloggers, are bound by a Code of Ethics that the Philippine Press Institute, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the National Press Club adopted in 1988.

Among the items in that code is "the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly." Journalists — and the news outfits they represent — also risk losing their credibility as professionals when they make factual mistakes.

2022 ELECTIONS

BONGBONG MARCOS JR.

PRESS FREEDOM

VIC RODRIGUEZ

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