MANILA, Philippines — Online news site Rappler should first settle its case before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before its reporters are allowed to cover Malacañang, according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Medialdea made this remark on Tuesday after Rappler reporter Pia Ranada, who covers Malacañang, was briefly barred from entering Malacañang’s New Executive Building where press briefings are being regularly held.
This incident comes a day after Rappler on Monday released a statement in response to the accusation of Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go that it was peddling fake news.
Rappler earlier released a report on Go’s alleged intervention on the PHP18-billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) of the Philippine Navy.
“Ayusin muna nila ang kanilang (They should fix their) personality as a corporation local corporation, otherwise, they cannot (cover),” Medialdea told reporters in an interview.
Medialdea was referring to the SEC decision to close Rappler claiming it violated the Constitution’s restriction on foreign ownership of local media.
“’Yon ang gist ng decision ng SEC eh. Ang accreditation ni Pia is because of the accreditation ng SEC (That’s the gist of the SEC decision. The accreditation of Pia is because of the accreditation of the SEC),” he added.
Medialdea said that because the SEC had decided to revoke Rappler’s license, it also meant that Ranada had immediately lost her accreditation.
“There was already an SEC decision revoking their license. Ang accreditation ni Pia (Pia’s accreditation) is from that particular accreditation so nawala rin ang kanyang (so she also lost her) accreditation in effect,” Medialdea said.
Asked if it was President Rodrigo R. Duterte who ordered Presidential Security Guards (PSG) to bar Ranada from entering the Palace, Medialdea said the President was merely following the SEC decision.
Despite Medialdea’s statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that Rappler was free to cover Malacañang pending its appeal to stop the implementation of the SEC decision to shut the media outfit down.
Roque pointed out that the verbal statement came from Medialdea himself.
“The Executive Secretary (Medialdea) just issued a verbal statement that pending appeal, you will be able to cover here in Malacañang,” Roque said.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said that there might have been a little “miscommunication” between Medialdea and Roque.
“There might have been a little miscommunication. the ES’ position as relayed to (Spokesperson) Harry is this: unless the CA issues a TRO against the SEC ruling (which voided Rappler’s registration), Rappler’s accreditation with the Malacañang Press Corps has accordingly ceased,” Guevarra said.
“Consequently, you may not cover media events at the Palace as an individual journalist unless you get accredited in some other capacity,” he added.
Rappler, in a statement on its site, slammed Malacañang for briefly barring its reporter arguing that its accreditation to cover Malacañang cannot be cancelled on the basis of the SEC ruling.
“No less than the SEC itself has said its decision to revoke our registration is not final and executory,” Rappler said.
“The case has been elevated to the Court of Appeals and is awaiting final decision. The executive branch must respect the judicial process and await the court’s decision,” it added.