File photo shows a member of the Presidential Security Group barring reporter Pia Ranada from entering Malacañan complex.
The STAR/Alexis Romero
SolGen cites Rappler’s ‘failure’ to meet accreditation rules for coverage ban
( - September 26, 2019 - 3:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — Reporters of Rappler are banned from covering presidential engagements because the online news site “simply failed” to meet accreditation requirements, the Office of the Solicitor General said.

Responding to the petitions filed by Rappler reporters and journalists from various media organizations, the solicitor general said the media accreditation of reporter Pia Ranada with the International Press Center had lapsed in December 2017 and the Securities and Exchange Commission had revoked the online news company’s certificate of incorporation in January 2018.

“Following the SEC decision, the IPC denied Ranada’s application for renewal of accreditation. Consequently, the Media Accreditation and Relations Office denied Ranada physical access in all events attended by the president,” the solicitor general said.

It stressed that media entities must be accredited to cover President Rodrigo Duterte under the rules of IPC and MARO.

“Here, Rappler simply failed to meet these accreditation requirements, hence, the non-renewal of its accreditation to cover Malacañang,” solicitor general said.

The ban started on Feb. 20, 2018 when a member of the Presidential Security Group barred reporter Pia Ranada from entering Malacañang complex.

On March 1, 2018, Duterte said in a speech that he is banning Rappler reporters. The announcement came a day after former presidential aide Christopher “Bong” Go, now a senator, said the news site delivers “fake news”—a comment often used for reports seen as critical of the administration.

‘Not a press freedom issue’

Last April, Rappler reporters filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court to assail the chief executive’s order to prohibit the news organization and its reporters from covering his public events.

The petitioners argued the ban is unconstitutional for violating the right to due process.

Journalists from various media outfits also filed petitions for intervention. They stressed that Duterte’s ban on Rappler reporters would also cover journalists who might publish stories which the president deems to be “fake news.”

But the government’s top lawyer, in the comment, said that the coverage ban does not impede on Rappler reporters’ rights as journalists.

“The mere act of the government enforcing its accreditation rules does not, in any way, affect or trample upon petitioners’ constitutional freedom of the press. This constitutional right does not certainly include the right to demand a special press pass, special accreditation or special spot at any news conference or press briefing,” the solicitor general said.

The solicitor general added that despite the ban, Rappler reporters have access to press releases and media briefers, can ask questions through SMS and publishes articles about the president.

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