Rappler barred from covering Malacañang events

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 20) — Rappler will not be able to cover Malacañang events for now.

This was confirmed by the Office of the Executive Secretary Tuesday, adding that Rappler's accreditation will cease until the Court of Appeals issues a temporary restraining order on the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) ruling the media outfit's license revocation.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is standing by the decision.

In an event in Malacañang Tuesday evening, he said, "Ayusin muna nila ang kanilang personality as a corporation – local corporation otherwise they cannot di ba?"

[Translation: They should first fix their personality as a corporation – local corporation otherwise they cannot, right?]

Pia Ranada, Rappler's Malacañang reporter shared a message sent to her by Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra; "Pia, there might have been a little miscommunication. the ES' position as relayed to Spokes(person) Harry (Roque) is this: unless the CA issues a TRO against the SEC ruling (which voided Rappler's registration), Rappler's accreditation with the Malacañang Press Corps has accordingly ceased. Consequently, you may not cover media events at the Palace as an individual journalist unless you get accredited in some other capacity."

Ranada was earlier barred from entering the Palace and covering a media briefing headed by Roque. She was told the instructions came from "up there."

READ: Roque: Barring reporters from Palace briefings not a press freedom issue

She was eventually allowed to enter Malacañang but Roque clarified once the CA upholds the SEC decision that Rappler violated foreign ownership restrictions, Ranada must become a member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) and no longer as member of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Roque said FOCAP members are not allowed to enter Malacañang and cover briefings unless invited.

Rappler released a statement regarding the incident, saying it was "another instance of power attempting to intimidate independent journalists."

They mentioned the order to ban Rappler from covering events at the Palace came from President Rodrigo Duterte, and that had been extended to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

"It is the first time, post-Marcos, that a duly-elected president has banned particular journalists from entering the Palace," the statement read.

Rappler said their accreditation to cover Malacañang events cannot be cancelled as the SEC said the decision to revoke their registration was not final and executory.

"The case has been elevated to the Court of Appeals and is awaiting final decision. The executive branch must respect the judicial process and await the court's decision. The Palace cannot jump the gun in this latest attempt to evade public scrutiny and monopolize the conversation on matters of public interest," it said.

It further said it "categorically and strongly" denies accusations of Ranada and Rappler editorializing and making "conclusions without facts."

Rappler's license to do business was revoked on January 11 after the SEC said it breached the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in mass media. Rappler on January 29 asked the CA to invalidate SEC's decision.

READ: Rappler takes case to CA, seeks to invalidate SEC decision

RELATED: SEC cancels Rappler's license to do business

CNN Philippines Senior Digital producers Lara Tan and Pia Garcia contributed to his report.