A foreigner takes a selfie with President Duterte at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Singapore the other night.
Philippine government bars foreign media from Singapore press con
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - April 28, 2018 - 12:00am

SINGAPORE – The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) decried certain prohibitions on its members covering the 32nd ASEAN Leaders Summit here.

A number of FOCAP members were not allowed to enter the function room at the Orchard Hotel Singapore where the press briefing of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III took place yesterday.

The FOCAP members, about 10 of them including TV crew and cameramen, were barred from entering the room at the International Media Center of the ASEAN summit where Bello’s press briefing was held.

Bello also did not answer questions from the FOCAP members waiting for him outside as he had to rush to another ASEAN labor-related meeting when he got out of the room and left the hotel.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also held a separate press briefing the night before where FOCAP members were initially prevented from entering the same room that Bello used yesterday.

However, they were eventually allowed to enter and set up their equipment although they were barred from asking questions. 

Both press briefings were facilitated by the Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO).

It also took care of the media delegation that covered the participation of President Duterte to the ASEAN summit here.

Incidentally, the media delegation had also earlier requested MARO if these officials could answer questions involving pressing issues of the day in the Philippines during the two press briefings.

MARO officials said Cayetano and Bello decided not to have any interaction with the FOCAP members who would have wanted to cover the press briefing.

FOCAP, on the other hand, said it is deeply alarmed by the Philippine government’s strong actions against freedom of information.

The FOCAP board said that government must clarify and spell out clear guidelines on media coverage so as to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“The most recent case involved some FOCAP members who are properly accredited by the government’s International Press Center (IPC), but were stopped from covering a news conference Friday by Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello in Singapore, where he was part of a delegation to the ASEAN summit.

“A day earlier, FOCAP members were blocked from a news conference given by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. They were subsequently allowed access, but were barred from asking questions during the press event,” the FOCAP statement said. The FOCAP board stressed these actions are curtailment of press freedom.

“We would like to recall a meeting with Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Queenie Rodulfo in November 2017, when she agreed to allow Filipinos working for foreign news agencies unfettered access to the President’s media events as well as other international press events,” the FOCAP statement further said.

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