By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — Malacañang reiterated on Thursday President Rodrigo Duterte’s coverage ban on news site Rappler does not violate any law, describing covering the Palace as a “privilege, not a right.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said despite the ban, Rappler still has access to regular Palace briefings which are live-streamed and televised, signed laws, and other important documents needed to write their news reports.
“I think the basis is that… it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege, not a right. And there is no violation simply because one, the Rappler is not being stopped from writing stories even against the government as it wants to do,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“It is not prohibited from publishing what it writes. So, how can there be prior restraint or violation of press freedom?” he added.
Panelo, who is also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, cited the example of banning coverage of a reporter who is a member of the Malacañang Press Corps when he or she breaks the rules that need to be observed.
“For instance, you’re supposed to be MPC and there are certain rules that you have also to observe as a guest of the Palace. Eh, ‘pag (when) you violate that, maging (when you are) rude kayo, disrespectful, oh ‘di siyempre, it’s the right of the Palace to either reprimand you or to exclude you, kasi(because) you have to observe courtesies, decorum, respect,” Panelo said.
Panelo, meanwhile, said he will leave it to Solicitor General Jose Calida to respond to Rappler’s petition before the Supreme Court asking the government to submit reply 10 days after August 14.
“We’ll leave it to the SolGen, that’s his duty/job to respond,” Panelo said.
“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, he added.
The ban on Rappler started in February 2018 after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the media outlet violated the Constitution’s restriction on foreign ownership of local media.
Rappler has denied this claim and said it is Filipino-owned.
President Duterte earlier said Rappler’s reporters would be allowed to cover his events again if the SEC would declare Rappler a 100 percent Filipino-owned online news outfit.
In April, Rappler filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court to strike down the ban on presidential coverage imposed on it, claiming that it violates its press freedom and rights to free speech, equal protection, and due process. (PNA)