(Eagle News)–Rappler was not physically allowed to cover President Rodrigo Duterte simply because it failed to meet the requirements for media accreditation.
This is according to the Office of the Solicitor General, which issued a statement a day after it filed before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Sept. 25, a consolidated comment to the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Rappler reporter Pia Ranada, eight other reporters and Rappler; and the petitions-in-intervention by some individuals.
Rappler had asked the SC to nullify the coverage ban on its reporters, calling it “arbitrary.”
According to the OSG, in the first place, under International Press Center and Media Accreditation and Relations Office rules, a legitimate media entity must be accredited to cover the President.
The Malacañang Press Corps by-laws , also require, among others, the OSG said, that one be recognized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office as a bona fide media organization, duly-accredited by the IPC and duly-registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission to be a member of the MPC.
The OSG said that while Ranada’s media accreditation, which expired in December 2017 with the International Press Center, was pending, the SEC, in a decision dated January 11, 2018, revoked Rappler’s certificate of incorporation for violating the foreign equity restriction for mass media under the Constitution.
“Here, Rappler simply failed to meet these accreditation requirements, hence, the non-renewal of its (or Ranada’s) accreditation to cover Malacañang,” the OSG said.
The “mere act of the government enforcing its accreditation rules does not, in any way, affect or trample upon petitioners’ constitutional freedom of the press,” the OSG added.
In fact, despite the expiration and non-renewal of Ranada’s accreditation in December 2017, the OSG said “Rappler continues to have access to press releases and media briefers from PCOO and re-broadcasts presidential events thru RTVM.”
It said Rappler reporters were also “free to ask questions, through SMS, during media briefings with Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and publish articles regarding the President and all events attended by him.”
“Notwithstanding its non-renewal of accreditation, Rappler has published and continues to publish numerous stories on current events involving the President within and outside of Malacañang. Those are the undeniable facts,” the OSG said.
“Rappler attempted to portray this case in their news reports as an alarming threat to press freedom. However, the petition miserably failed to present any genuine issue on the alleged abridgment of free press,” the OSG said.
“The government recognizes the role of free press in our democracy; but our people deserve news reports from legitimate media organizations that comply with rules on accreditation, respect the decisions of tribunals and obey the Constitution and our laws,” it added.