ASEAN organizers welcome bloggers to accredited media pool

ASEAN organizers welcome bloggers to accredited media pool

Lawyer Bruce Rivera is among the accredited members of the media for the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings. Facebook.com / Bruce Rivera

MANILA, Philippines — The organizers of the Association of the South East Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting have added bloggers to its list of accredited media.

This was confirmed by lawyer and internet personality Bruce Rivera on a Facebook post, where he showed his media identification card indicating he was covering the event for “DDS”.

Rivera, a known supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, posted about an alleged conversation with a Singaporean member of the press, who asked where he is from and mentioned it was his “first time to hear of DDS.”

Rivera, who is better known as a lawyer, responded: “It is now the biggest network in the Philippines.” However, he did not mention what "DDS" stands for.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux "Mocha" Uson, a performer and blogger, calls Duterte's supporters "Ka-DDS" or "Die-hard Duterte Supporters."

Assistant Secretary Uson also has a weekly radio program on the PCOO Facebook page called "DDS podcast."

Rivera's accreditation raised questions from Filipino members of the media, who asked if the lawyer complied with the strict accreditation process for “regular” members of the press.

The organizing body for ASEAN events required members of the press to accomplish and submit an online accreditation form. Applicants for accreditation are also required to submit a letter of assignment from their media companies, a scanned image of their media ID, and a scanned copy of a  standard 2x2 photo with a white background.

A reporter for a daily newspaper was sent an e-mail to "kindly send us a picture of you with white background." The same reporter was told that organizers "won't be approving your registration unless you send us a new picture."

Two members of the Philstar.com staff were also told to resubmit their photos for their applications for registration.

Rivera’s ID photo on his media pass does not have a white background.

'DFA does not handle media accreditation for ASEAN'

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar however said the DFA does not handle the accreditation of media for the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings.

“Accreditation of all media to cover the AMM and related meetings are handled by Maro (Malacañang's Media Accreditation and Relations Office), not DFA. We just helped facilitate the AMM accreditation of all DFA press corps,” Bolivar told reporters.

Bolivar reiterated that media accreditation for all events during the Philippines chairmanship of the ASEAN is and will be handled by MARO.

MARO is attached to the PCOO, which, according to its website, is tasked with "serve as the premier arm of the Executive Branch in engaging and involving the citizenry and the mass media in order to enrich the quality of public discourse on all matters of governance and build a national consensus thereon."

A number of members of the media also complained about losing space at the International Media Center in Conrad Hotel Manila due to the number of media present within “small press center.”

Bolivar raised the media’s concern to the PCOO. He said that the agency is looking “for additional alternatives should it be necessary.”

“PCOO is making an announcement regarding additional available work stations,” Bolivar said.

[Editor's note: An earlier version of this story referred to Robespierre Bolivar as Foreign Affairs secretary instead of spokesman. The story has been edited to correct this.]

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