Reporters ask Palace official, technicians not to cut them off at briefings

February 26, 2021 - 12:45 PM
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Maintenance staff disinfect the media briefing room at the New Executive Building in Malacañang Palace on Thursday, March 12, 2020 as a precaution against COVID-19.

Palace official blames telcos

The presidential spokesperson skipped the questions of reporters whose audio connection was lost when they were about to speak at a Malacañang press briefing. It was not the first time it happened.

Digital news website Rappler shared a video clip of the briefing conducted by Malacañang from Pamplona, Negros Oriental in which its spokesperson was about to entertain a question from its reporter.

In the clip, Pia Ranada begins to speak but no sound registers. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque notices this and says that there is “no audio.”

“Next question, please,” he adds.

On another occasion shown in the clip, Trish Terada from CNN Philippines begins to speak but Roque interrupts her and mentions another reporter’s name.

Terada pauses when she notices this but the spokesperson also stops talking and then responds after a few seconds of silence.

“Okay, Trish. Okay na ‘no?” Roque says even though Terada has not yet asked the question she prepared.

GMA News reporter Joseph Morong then requests that the spokesperson refrains from cutting off other Palace reporters.

He is interrupted by Roque who says he can “hear” him but Morong does not get to finish raising his point.

“You could just say na you’re ending, you’re going to end the question and answer. It’s kind of harsh if you do that, if you cut the audio,” Morong said.

“This is the second time na na-cut iyong audio ng reporter. I hope—”

Harry Roque press briefing
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque at a press briefing in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on Feb. 25, 2021. (Photo from Philippine Information Agency-Negros Oriental via Facebook)

At that point, Morong is interrupted by the spokesperson who denies that he is cutting off reporters.

“I never cut off anyone. I never cut off anyone, Joseph. Never!” Roque said while Morong was still talking.

“Yes, but the audio—maybe not you, but the staff over here. Dalawang beses na, sir, na naputulan ng audio ‘yung si Tricia and then si Pia. I hope that you could just maybe say we’re going to end the question and answer just so we know and we don’t just cut off in the air,” the reporter said.

Morong then proceeds to present his question but Roque interrupts him and once again says that he never cut off the audio of the reporters.

“No, I can assure you, I never do that intentionally. Kung naka-cut-off, it’s the fault of the telecoms,” the spokesperson firmly says.

“Yeah, I think maybe… you may be able to explain that, sir,” Morong responds.

Ranada then appears onscreen and says she agrees with her fellow reporter. “Sir, first of all, I second the motion of Joseph on the cutting of audio,” she says.

She then promptly presents her questions to the spokesperson but in the middle of talking, the latter continues to clear his name.

“I reiterate that I do not intentionally do that. Blame the telecoms, not the OPS (Office of the Presidential Spokesperson),” Roque says.

“Oo, sir, it’s just only that the telecoms seem to fail every time you say that we’ve asked too many questions,” Ranada answers.

Reacting to the video clip that compiles the times Roque moved on in the round of questioning without allowing the reporters to finish, Filipinos called out the spokesperson for how he engages with Palace reporters.

Observations

A Twitter user said that while Roque was not cutting off the reporters’ audio, he was still interrupting them as they spoke and posed their questions.

“Naiexplain niya na na telecoms nga naman daw ang problema and everyone moved on proceeding to ask their intended questions pero sumisingit ka pa din. That is cutting them off,” the online user wrote in response to the video.

“This is a whole new level of disrespect. Nakakagalit,” another Filipino commented.

“Could have just apologized for the technical difficulties instead. Why the need to blame and be so defensive (about) it,” a different Filipino likewise said.

Other Twitter users similarly pointed out how Roque continuously interrupted some reporters while they were still talking even without the telecom issues.

Roque: “I never cut off anyone.” Also Roque: *continuously cuts off Joseph Morong and Pia Ranada at the duration of the video,*” tweeted one.

Roque previously figured in an issue with Terada whom he extensively berated in the middle of a press briefing last year about the supposed misuse of the term “mass testing.”

RELATED: Misquoted or not? Roque’s use of ‘mass testing’ terms and the private-led Project ARK

Terada’s news organization stood by its reporting and denounced the spokesperson for how he treated its reporter.

Ranada, meanwhile, has been banned from entering the Palace, along with other Rappler reporters, since 2018.