Palace exec: Rules on blogger accreditation still to be refined

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Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — Amid the fuss over Malacanang's social media accreditation guidelines, Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan said the draft rules were still a work in progress.

"We will refine the policy. I understand the concern of mainstream media that there's not enough guidelines. It's a wild wild west but we have to start somewhere. And this is somewhere," Ablan told CNN Philippines' News Night, Friday.

The Department Order on the accreditation released Wednesday raised some eyebrows.

The order will allow Filipino citizens at least 18 years old to cover presidential activities for free. However, accreditation requires them to have at least 5,000 followers on their social media platforms, plus consistent publishing of original content.

READ: PCOO to accredit bloggers for Presidential coverages

Some Palace reporters were up in arms, saying they had to take four-year communication courses, and start from the lowest beats like the police before going up the ladder to cover Malacanang.

"Hindi ba binabalahura 'yung institution na knowing presidential, tapos kung sinu-sino na lang 'yung i-a-accredit natin dito? [Isn't the institution being disrespected knowing that this is the presidential beat, then we are just accrediting any person?]" a reporter asked during yesterday's briefing.

READ: Some Palace reporters question guidelines for accrediting bloggers to cover Duterte

Ablan added the Philippines would be the first to accredit bloggers and other social media users to cover the President, so we are breaking new ground here.

"There is no major government in the world that actually has - this is a new trade.  We are pioneers here," the assistant secretary noted.

The PCO's social media policy was first discussed in February, in a forum organized by the office. Ablan said they invited journalists from different platforms, as well as bloggers, to comment on the draft policy.

There were disagreements, and Ablan said he advised PCO Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson and Secretary Martin Andanar that they needed to come up with an "interim, probationary" policy.

"If we are going to wait for a perfect policy for accreditation, we might not have an accreditation process at all. So at the very least, let's come out with an interim, temporary, probationary social media accreditation policy and let's just refine it as we go along," Ablan said.

READ: PCOO to accredit social media publishers, users