Rappler reporter barred from Malacañang

(UPDATED) - Rappler reporter Pia Ranada has been stripped of her privilege to enter and cover events held at the Malacañang.

Ranada, a member of the Malacañang Press Corps, was initially barred from entering the the New Executive Building (NEB) at the Palace grounds, where the press briefing room is located, on the morning of Tuesday, February 20.

She took to Facebook the alleged order from a "higher-up" to prevent her from entering the Malacañang premises.

"(Presidential Security Group member) Marc Anthony Cempron tells me there were instructions from 'up there' to bar me, specifically from entering Malacañang," she said.

Minutes later, Ranada was able to enter NEB, after a clarification was issued that she is only barred from Malacañan Palace, where President Rodrigo Duterte's activities are usually held.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the President for "displaying extreme pettiness in ordering the ban" on Ranada.

In a Facebook post, NUJP officials called on all journalists to "unite and reject this outrage and to continue resisting all attempts to dictate what we can and should report."

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a chance interview with Palace reporters late Tuesday, said Duterte was merely complying with the January 11 ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which revoked Rappler's certificate of incorporation.

"(Duterte) is merely following [the SEC ruling on Rappler. The SEC's decision is executory," he said on the sidelines of the induction of the new board of directors of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Phil.) Inc. held at the Palace's Rizal Hall.

In January, the corporate regulator decided to revoke Rappler's certificate of incorporation for allegedly violating foreign equity restrictions under the Constitution and Philippine laws.

The SEC earlier clarified that the revocation order is not yet "final and executory."

But Medialdea said the SEC'S ruling, in effect, invalidated Ranada's access to any coverage in the Palace.

"There was already an SEC decision, saying revoking their license. Pia's accreditation is from that particular accreditation so in effect, she lost her accreditation," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a press conference, said he was unaware of the order to bar Ranada from the Palace and hinted that the decision may have been at PSG's "discretion."

Roque, however, gave assurance that Rappler can still cover Palace events while its appeal filed before the Court of Appeals (CA), seeking to reverse the SEC decision, is still pending.

"But after the Court of Appeals decides and if the decision of SEC is sustained, Rappler would have to transfer to FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines)," Roque added.

On January 29, Rappler filed a petition before the CA to review the revocation of its certificate.

The ban on Ranada was imposed a day after Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go appeared before the Senate to shed light on allegations that he interfered in the controversial frigate deal of the Philippine Navy.

It was Ranada, through online news site Rappler, who broke the story about Go's purported interest in the selection of the supplier for the Philippine Navy warships' combat management system. (SunStar Philippines)
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