PRESS freedom, like all the other freedoms we are currently enjoying, was not handed to us on a silver platter. It was acquired through our predecessors’ assertion of it and our relentless effort to protect and defend it every time it is threatened. That is why the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) issuing a statement supporting their colleague, Rappler’s Pia Ranada, is a welcome development.
President Rodrigo Duterte has barred Ranada and her superior in Rappler, Maria Ressa, from covering Malacañang. Not only that. The head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), Brig. Gen. Lope Dagoy, would later tell Ranada she should be thankful she was not physically harmed when she aggressively asked for an explanation why she wasn’t allowed to enter Malacañang.
“While we respect the discretion of Malacañang to set accreditation rules for presidential events, we deplore any arbitrary attempt to bar access and harass reporters performing their duty as an independent monitor of power and guardian of public interest,” MPC noted.
This should serve notice to Malacañang that its attempt to dictate whatever members of the MPC would report in their coverage of the president wouldn’t work. As the MPC noted, “journalists have no obligation to please their sources because their loyalty should be to the people, where the power of the President and other government officials emanates.”
Which brings us to one of the many reasons Malacañang used to justify what it is doing to Rappler and Ranada: fake news. Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo brought this out. Any reporter who writes fake news would be barred from covering Malacañang. Which is actually a threat against objective reporting, considering the Palace’s definition of “fake news.”
In the mind of Malacañang, fake news is any report that does not make the President and his administration look good. Meaning that any reporter dutifully reporting the goings-on, good or bad, in Malacañang, would be subject to the Ranada treatment. Thus, the MPC statement is important to stymie Malascañang’s plan. Standing up for one’s rights can be an antidote to the poison that is tyranny.