MANILA - Malacañang insisted Thursday that it is not violating any law in banning news website Rappler and its journalists from entering Palace grounds and covering the events of President Rodrigo Duterte.
This after the Supreme Court ordered respondent government agencies, including the Office of the President, to comment on Rappler’s plea, which argued that the ban constitutes prior restraint and subsequent punishment, a violation of their right to freedom of speech and expression.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the coverage ban on Rappler could not be considered as prior restraint since the news website is free to produce its own content.
“It cannot be restraint. You must remember that until now they are still dishing, writing news. They’re covering events, activities,” he told reporters during a Palace press briefing.
“There is no violation because Rappler is not being stopped from writing stories even against the government as it wants to. It is not prohibited from publishing what it writes so how can there be prior restraint or violation of press freedom?” he said.
Panelo also explained that being a “guest of the Palace” is a privilege and not a right.
In February 2018, Rappler’s Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada was prevented from entering the Palace, its press working area, or any public event where President Rodrigo Duterte is present.
That ban extended to Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa and other Rappler journalists based in Manila and other parts of the country.
Rappler is known for its critical reporting on the President and the administration.
“There are many ways by covering an event, and, in fact, they’ve been doing that. We’ve been reading articles from Rappler so there is no violation whatsoever,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the Palace leaves it up to Solicitor General Jose Calida to respond to Rappler’s plea, noting that it would wait for the Supreme Court’s decision.
Rappler and its executives are facing several other legal cases, and its articles of registration were revoked by the Securities and Exchange Commission in January 2018.