MANILA - Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson on Tuesday asked her superior, Secretary Martin Andanar, to clarify the membership of online news site Rappler with the Malacañang Press Corps, a guild of reporters covering the Palace and President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a letter posted on her Facebook page, Uson noted that Rappler, founded by former ABS-CBN News chief Maria Ressa, “has no counterpart print or broadcast arm” and is therefore considered a social media entity which should be subjected to the accreditation process handled by her office.
“In view of the foregoing, I respectfully request that Rappler be reclassified and moved from Malacañang Press Corp. (sic) to Social Media,” Uson said in her letter to Andanar.
Rappler, in response, said Uson’s request to Andanar was a clear violation of the Constitutional guarantee of press freedom.
“Rappler is an independent private media company. Because the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press (Art. III, Section 4), government does not have the power to regulate independent media,” Rappler said.
The online news site added that MPC is an “independent group unattached to any government agency and is not under government control nor the supervision of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)” to which Uson belongs.
It also noted that PCOO’s social media practitioner accreditation covers only individuals and not news organizations.
“Section 5 of the PCOO’s Department Order 15 is categorical: ‘Social Media accreditation shall be issued to a Filipino Citizen who is at least eighteen (18) years of age, with not less than five thousand (5,000) followers in any social media platform,’” Rappler noted.
“This clearly does not cover Rappler, Inc, which is a registered media corporation.”
Uson made the request amid the ongoing tiff between Rappler’s Palace reporter Pia Ranada and another pro-Duterte blogger, RJ Nieto (Thinking Pinoy).
Ranada has filed a complaint against the DWIZ before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas after Nieto, who has a program in the radio station, asked Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. in an interview to throw a hollow block at her.