Press corps raises concern over denial of Palace reporter's accreditation

Press corps raises concern over denial of Palace reporter's accreditation
File photo shows Malacañan Palace
Presidential Museum and Library

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:38 p.m.) — The Malacañang Press Corps, which comprises members of the press assigned to cover the president, on Monday said it was "concerned" that the Office of the Press Secretary decided against accrediting a longtime Palace reporter over unspecified violations.

According to the MPC, the Palace did not accredit Hataw reporter Rose Novenario although it is yet unclear why.

"We call on the OPS to clearly state Ms. Novenario's alleged violations as well as the circumstances that led to the denial of her accreditation," the Palace reporters said, adding its members need "clear cut rules on what is deemed as an unacceptable behavior."

At the Senate public information and mass media panel's hearing later Monday afternoon, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles confirmed that her office denied Novenario's request for accreditation after the reporter "insulted" members of the OPS with "anti-LGBTQ words."

Asked by Sen. Raffy Tulfo what the veteran Palace reporter said, Cruz-Angeles replied that Novenario had used a phrase discriminatory to gays.

Citing "reports" from her office's media relations unit, Cruz-Angeles said that Novenario used a homophobic slur when complaining about the office's media relations processes, though she did not present proof.

Cruz-Angeles said Novenario can still be reinstated as an accredited Palace reporter later on if it's proven that the Office of the Press Secretary is in the wrong. 

MPC to continue dialogues with OPS

The Malacañang Press Corps urged the Office of the Press Secretary to "communicate properly" the grounds for the denial of accreditation of any of its members, adding that it would continue to hold dialogues with the OPS.

Journalists accredited with a government agency are typically given access to press conferences, releases, and other avenues for information on the goings-on in that office.

Although the MPC is independent of government, the Palace has generally accredited its members and allowed them to cover.

"Ms. Novenario will remain a member of MPC despite the ban and we will continue to exhaust measures to address the issue, taking into account the need to balance the role of journalists to report independently and to ensure proper decorum in the performance of such a duty," the press corps said.

The MPC has had a generally good relationhip with the Palace.

In 2018, the press corps stressed that Rappler reporter Pia Ranada, who had been banned from the Palace and from covering President Rodrigo Duterte's events, would remain a member and said then that it was "[asserting] its prerogative to accept, suspend or revoke membership to the body."

It also said then that it "deplores any arbitrary attempt to bar access and harass reporters performing their duty as an independent monitor of power and guardian of public interest."

In 2017, the press corps issued a statement in response to then Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar's claim that media had "misreported" Duterte's statement about martial law.

"We are disturbed by the propensity of the officials of this administration to blame the media whenever the inflammatory statements of the President stir controversy or draw flak. This trend should stop as it would not contribute to the elevation of the level of public discourse," it said then. — Franco Luna



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