MANILA - Rappler’s Palace reporter Pia Ranada has been banned from the entire Malacañang complex, the reporter said on Wednesday evening.
Ranada confirmed this development on Twitter on Wednesday night, a day after she was briefly barred by Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel from entering the Palace complex.
While Ranada was able to enter the Palace complex on Tuesday, she was still prevented from covering an event hosted by President Rodrigo Duterte that day.
“I’m informed by Malacañang that I can no longer enter Malacañang complex as a whole, not just the Palace,” Ranada said on Twitter.
“Thus, I've been banned from [Presidential Spokesperson] Harry Roque's press briefings. No more opportunity to ask questions in person, make follow-ups, participate in ambush interviews. I'll definitely miss that. I didn't realize today would be my last day in Malacañang. Breaks my heart.”
Ranada was still able to enter Malacañang’s New Executive Building on Wednesday, although there was no scheduled briefing that day. The President’s scheduled merienda with former communist rebels was also closed to the media.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said Ranada may still cover his briefings. However, as the issue developed, Palace officials clarified that Ranada and her fellow Rappler reporters are banned from covering all briefings and events in Malacañang.
Speaking to dzMM on Wednesday, Roque said Duterte has lost his trust with Ranada, which is why he has barred her from the Palace and other presidential events and gatherings.
Roque said that aside from Rappler’s issue with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Duterte got irked by Rappler's supposed “fake news” reports.
“Ang Presidente rin ang nag-utos nung alas-dos ng hapon na talagang hindi na pupuwede ang Rappler sa Malacanang, dahil nawalan na ng tiwala ang Presidente nga diyan sa Rappler,” Roque told dzMM.
Roque also suggested that Ranada just write Palace and Duterte-related stories by watching livestreams of the briefings and the President's speeches.
“Lilinawin ko lang po, bagama’t hindi na siya pupuwedeng mag-cover sa Malacañang, puwede siyang magsulat, kahit anong gusto niyang isulat, kahit puro ‘fake news’ iyan, kung kaligayahan niya iyan, ituloy niya iyan. Kaya nga po walang paglalabag, walang pagsusupil sa kalayaan ng pamamahayag,” Roque said.
“Ang hindi lang siya pupuwede ay magkaroon ng access ngayon kay Presidente, dahil buwisit sa kanya ang Presidente.”
Roque, who once took up the cudgels for some members of the media, also claimed that Duterte’s action is not suppression of press freedom.
“Nasaan ang pagsupil ng press freedom diyan? Meron ba kaming sinensor? Meron ba kaming artikulo na hindi pinayagang ma-publish?” Roque said.
“Sa totoo lang po kung kami ay nanunupil ng press freedom, di wala na sanang nasulat ang Rappler, dahil wala namang mabuting sinusulat iyan tungkol kay Presidente.”
Rappler, however, insisted that the action taken against them is a press freedom issue.
"It is not the government's role to say who can cover what, and when, and where. There is a clear line between a nation's officials, and the press whose job it is to hold them accountable by informing the public of their actions,” the online news site said in a statement.
"The government has set a precedent, and while we may be the pet peeve now, someone else could be next.”
Duterte’s order to bar Ranada from the Palace came a day after his top aide, Christopher “Bong” Go, lashed out at Rappler during a Senate hearing for supposedly publishing a malicious report that he meddled in a deal to supply the combat management system for two navy frigates.