By CONG B. CORRALES
THE Cagayan de Oro Press Club yesterday joined other news organizations in decrying Malacañang’s ban on Rappler and its reporter Pia Ranada.
On Tuesday, Ranada was held at Malacañang’s gate for at least 10 minutes before she was finally allowed to pass through after clarification of a “ban order.”
“With due respect to whatever decision of Malacanang for the ground rules it imposes on presidential coverages, the arbitrary gesture against reporters to gain access to public places such as the seat of power that is Malacanang, is nothing but simply an attempt to harass any member of the press,” said COPC president Ruffy Magbanua.
Magbanua said it would do Malacanang well to review its policy concerning restrictions on media activities instead of harassing reporters who are seen to be critical of the Duterte administration.
For its part, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines slammed President Duterte’s “display of pettiness.”
“Once again, we are faced with a leader who apparently sees his position as an entitlement that extends to those closest to him, one who has shown no qualms about openly wishing to silence dissent and criticism, accusing the independent press of fakery when their accurate reportage of his actions and utterances — a number of which have been later established to be outright canards or statements bordering on the criminal — boomerang on him,” said lawyer Jocelyn Clemente, NUJP acting national chair.
Clemente said the ban on Ranada sends a clear and chilling signal that Duterte wants the Philippine press to tow his line.
Despite the ban, the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) stood its ground on Wednesday and declared that Rappler will remain a member of MPC unless the Court of Appeals upholds the decision of the SEC revoking its registration.
“MPC, an independent organization of journalists regularly covering the President and Malacañang activities, asserts its prerogative to accept, suspend or revoke membership to the body,” it said in a statement.
While it respects the discretion of Malacañang to set accreditation rules for presidential events, the MPC said it “deplores any arbitrary attempt to bar access and harass reporters performing their duty as an independent monitor of power and guardian of public interest.” (with reports from davaotoday.com)