Palace justifies coverage ban vs Rappler: It’s a ‘privilege not a right’
MANILA, Philippines — Invoking that presidential coverage is a privilege and not a right, Malacañang insisted Thursday that it can “reprimand” or “exclude” journalists from covering presidential events for violating certain rules.
“There are certain rules that you have also to observe as a guest of the Palace,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo pointed out in a Palace briefing.
“When you violate that, maging rude kayo and disrespectful, oh eh ‘di syempre it’s the right of the Palace to either reprimand you or to exclude you kasi you have to observe courtesies, decorum, respect,” he added.
Panelo made the remark after the Supreme Court ordered the government to comment on the petition to lift President Rodrigo Duterte’s coverage ban against online news outfit Rappler.
In March last year, Duterte ordered the ban against Rappler and its reporters, accusing the media company of misreporting.
The President also claimed that Rappler was not a legitimate agency according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SEC has ordered the revocation of Rappler’s license to operate.
Rappler’s Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada was first barred from entering Malacañang premises on February 20, 2018. The ban was later expanded to all events of the president and then further extended to all Rappler reporters including correspondents in the provinces.
But Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, claimed that banning Rappler from presidential events is not a violation of press freedom as the news agency is still able to publish stories about the President and his activities.
“I think the basis is that it’s a privilege, not a right. And there is no violation simply because the Rappler is not being stopped from writing stories, even against the government, as it wants to do,” Panelo said.
“It is not prohibited from publishing what it writes, so how can there be prior restraint or violation of press freedom,” he added.
Nonetheless, Panelo said the Palace will let the Office of the Solicitor General answer on the petition to lift Duterte’s ban against Rappler.
“We will not preempt the SolGen. He’s the lawyer who will be representing these respondents and he will do what is required for him to do,” Panelo said. /kga
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