MANILA - The Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), the organization of journalists covering the Office of the President, on Wednesday hit back at Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson for asking that online news site Rappler be reclassified as a social media entity.
In a statement, the MPC slammed Uson’s move, saying it “deplores any attempt to curtail press freedom and [it] will continue to ensure a strong free press, keep the public informed and the government in check.”
Uson wants Rappler reclassified as a social media entity so that it can subjected to the accreditation process handled by her office.
The MPC argued that its affairs, governed by by-laws in accordance with the constitutional provision on press freedom, are not under the control and supervision of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, under which Uson is assigned.
In a letter to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Uson said that Rappler, founded by former CNN Manila Bureau chief Maria Ressa, “has no counterpart print or broadcast arm” and should therefore be considered a social media entity.
“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 her superior, Andanar, a broadcaster prior to joining government.
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.
Uson made the request amid the tiff between Rappler’s Palace reporter Pia Ranada and pro-Duterte blogger, RJ Nieto of Thinking Pinoy.
Ranada filed a complaint against Nieto before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas after Nieto asked Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in an interview with dwIZ radio, to throw a hollow block at Ranada.