MALACAÑANG yesterday clarified that Rappler is free to cover official press briefings in Malacañang while its appeal to overturn a decision revoking its license is pending in court.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the online media entity would be allowed to cover Palace briefings until the Court of Appeals (CA) sustains the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) ruling to cancel its license due to constitutional violations.
“As far as I know… you are still allowed until the appeal is resolved by the Court of Appeals. If [the SEC decision] is sustained, then you will have to move to FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines), which is the media group for foreign correspondents. Because the decision of the SEC is that you are foreign-controlled,” Roque said.
Roque noted that FOCAP members are not allowed unimpeded access to Malacañang events due to security reasons and a request by the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) for exclusive media coverage. He said foreign media correspondents are only given accreditation on a per-event basis.
“The accreditation is not a license to practice your profession... The accreditation really is for security purposes. But no one is prevented from covering. You can cover; except that, we are in the most secure premises in this country called Malacañang Palace, and for good reasons. So admission to it is really not a matter of right,” Roque said.
Roque assured that Rappler reporters are not barred from covering his press briefings, which are televised live and can be monitored through the Palace’s official Facebook pages.
“We will never prevent any media organization from practicing their profession, and that is our firm commitment. We will never curtail the exercise of freedom of the press except that, you have to understand, access to Palace is not part of freedom of the press. You can report through other means if need be,” he stressed.
On the other hand, the Spokesperson cautioned the news organization against resorting to editorializing news stories and publishing “fake news.”
He was referring to Rappler’s reporting of the frigate deal issue, in which it reported that Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go intervened in a multi-billion peso Navy project.
Roque said documents shown during the Senate hearing proved that Rappler’s claim of an intervention by SAP Go was in fact just a response to a complaint received by the Palace, which it endorsed to the proper line agency.
“Witnesses already clarified under oath that Bong Go did not intervene at any time... The documents prove that there was a complaint, it was referred for attention by the PMS (Presidential Management Staff), and that’s the full extent of what you claim to be an intervention,” he said.
“The document did not emanate from Bong Go. Even the note says it did not emanate from Bong Go… The document confirmed that they acted upon a complaint… Do you really want government to ignore official communication sent to it?” he further stressed.