Banned from inaugural, press feels ‘big change’
Change has indeed come. But it was not what members of the fourth estate covering Malacañang were hoping for.
The Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) and other journalists, including those from the foreign news agencies, were barred from covering President Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration as the 16th President of the Philippines at Rizal Ceremonial Hall in the Palace.
“We are not your enemies, but partners in informing the public,” Bernard Testa, interaksyon.com photographer and former president of the Presidential Photographers Association, told the Inquirer he wanted to tell Duterte.
Mr. Duterte had several run-ins with the media even before he assumed office.
In one of his late-night press briefings in Davao City, he made a comment that seemed to justify the killing of journalists who were corrupt. At another he wolf-whistled a married woman reporter who was asking him a question.
Testa said the rift between Mr. Duterte and the media could just be a case of “miscommunication.”
“The differences he has with the media could just be a result of ‘lost in translation.’ We can have a dialogue and thresh out our differences,” he said.
A veteran broadcast journalist, who asked not to be named for obvious reasons, said it was “unfortunate” that he and other members of the media were not able to “freely carry out our work as chroniclers of history on this very historic moment.”
“While we respect the protocols of Malacañang, we could have discussed ways to cover the inauguration while respecting the restrictions,” he said.
“What we saw today was tantamount to prior restraint to a free press, which is not good for our democracy,” he added.
For the first since the inauguration of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, a president was sworn into office in Malacañang, a break from tradition which had it that presidents were inaugurated at Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park./ac
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