Palace backs Andanar on ‘press freedom caravan’ to Europe
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday backed the decision of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to send officials to Europe for a “press freedom caravan.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he shares the sentiments of PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar that the trip was “meaningful and fruitful” and had “nothing to do” with the arrest of Rappler’s chief executive officer Maria Ressa.
“I share the sentiments of PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar that the official trip is meaningful and fruitful even as his office fulfills its mandate to disseminate the policies of our government and how they are implemented in accordance with our Constitution,” Panelo said in a statement.
“As explained by Secretary Andanar, the said trip has nothing to do with the arrest of Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa, given the fact that the delegation left the country prior to Ressa’s arrest with an agenda prepared weeks before their departure,” he added.
Panelo also explained that the delegation was tasked to “deliver crucial information and campaigns of the government” to Filipinos abroad and members of the international community.
Andanar earlier explained that the ongoing “press freedom caravan” in Europe led by PCOO officials was not to solely to explain to the European media the “real nature” of the cyberlibel case against Ressa.
He noted that the PCOO officials sent to Europe were part of the government’s delegation to clarify issues on “involuntary disappearances” and anti-communist terrorist groups, among others.
He also clarified that the delegation left for Europe two days before the arrest of Ressa, but he instructed the PCOO officials to answer queries about Ressa.
Andanar’s clarification came after two senators questioned the need for a caravan to explain the nature of Ressa’s arrest. /ee
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