MANILA – After the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the registration of news organization Rappler, its reporters can still continue their work by becoming bloggers, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
In a press briefing at the Provincial Capitol of La Union in San Fernando City on Wednesday, he said, “Pwede pa po sila na maging bloggers. Malinaw po ‘yan (They can still become bloggers. That is clear). (CEO) Maria Ressa can continue to blog. (Malacañang beat reporter) Pia Rañada can continue to blog.”
He continued, “Kaya nga lang po baka kinakailangan silang kumuha ng accreditation as bloggers (But they may have to get accreditation as bloggers). Kasi (Because) they cannot continue conducting their business as Rappler, since that company has for all intents and purposes been declared void by the SEC.”
Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson handles the accreditation of social media practitioners, and it may be recalled that in November last year, she wrote PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar asking that Rappler “be reclassified and moved from Malacañang Press Corp (sic) to social media.”
Meanwhile, Roque reiterated that the news organization cannot claim that there is a violation of the freedom of the press unless there is prior restraint or censorship.
He noted that he had taught Constitutional Law for 15 years, making him an expert on the matter.
It was Rappler’s fault, he said, for allowing foreigners to own it.
His remarks follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on Tuesday during the inauguration of a government satellite-based air traffic system in Pasay City that he had nothing to do with what happened to the news organization.
The Philippine Star quoted Duterte as saying, “We never had the hand and I don’t give a s*** if you continue or not continue with your network… We never had the hand, except those people who have been attacking us below the belt.”
In a press conference that followed, he told journalists, “You are not only throwing toilet paper; you are throwing s**t at us!”
The Philippine Star quoted Duterte as saying that the media had “overused and abused the privilege in the guise of press freedom.”
He also called Rappler a purveyor of “fake news”, saying, “Your articles are (filled) with innuendos and pregnant with falsity… Since you are a fake news outlet, then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake.”
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To this, Rappler responded on Wednesday: “The President knows who produces fake news in the Philippines, and it certainly is not Rappler. He doesn’t have to look far from where he sits in Malacañang.”
Meanwhile, students and youth organizations rallied in Mendiola on the same day to protest the SEC’s decision.