MANILA (UPDATE) - Rappler’s Palace reporter was initially barred from entering Malacañang premises on Tuesday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte’s top aide slammed the news outfit of biased reporting.
Pia Ranada said she was barred by a Presidential Security Group member guarding Malacañang’s Gate 2, which leads to the New Executive Building where reporters hold office and attend regular media briefings.
The PSG officer, whom Ranada identified as Marc Anthony Cempron, told the Rappler reporter that she is barred from entering the Palace grounds based on orders from “taas” (higher ups).
When pressed by Ranada on who exactly gave the order, the PSG member avoided answering.
After coordination with members of the Palace media affairs office and officers of the Malacañang Press Corps, Ranada was eventually allowed to enter the Palace grounds.
However, Ranada was told she could only attend press briefings at the NEB. She said she will be barred from entering the Palace itself, where President Duterte usually holds events and receives guests.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Ranada can still cover press briefings pending the resolution of Rappler’s appeal before the Court of Appeals regarding its revocation of incorporation papers by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC revoked Rappler's incorporation papers last month for supposedly violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media.
“If it (SEC order) is sustained, you will have to move to FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines). Because the decision of the SEC is you are foreign-controlled,” Roque said in a news conference.
Roque said he was not privy to the reason behind PSG’s initial decision to bar Ranada from entering the Palace grounds, but he insisted that Rappler was not being barred because Palace officials do not like Rappler’s style of reporting.
“There’s no barring of press freedom. Number one, you are here,” Roque told Ranada during the press briefing.
“I don’t know about that (order), that's absolute PSG discretion.”
The incident came just a day after Duterte’s most trusted aide, Bong Go, slammed Rappler’s reporting of the frigate deal issue.
It was Rappler, along with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which initially reported about Go’s alleged intervention in the selection of the Combat Management System for the P15.7-billion frigates to be purchased by the Philippine Navy.
In a Senate hearing on Monday, Go denied the allegations and slammed the two news outfits.
We still maintain it's fake news because witnesses clarified under oath that Bong Go did not intervene at any time,” Roque said of Rappler’s report.
"You’re already editorializing. You’re already making a judgment that SAP Go was intervening in behalf of a company.”