Media watchdogs slam Malacañang ban on Rappler reporter
MANILA, Philippines – Media watchdogs Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) both spoke out against the ban preventing Rappler reporter Pia Ranada from entering the Malacañang complex.
The CMFR, in a statement released Thursday, February 22, said, "The message of that directive, the first by a sitting Philippine president since the Marcos dictatorship, is clear. It is that journalists can and will be prevented from doing their jobs should they, like Ms Ranada, ask government officials the tough questions that practitioners need to raise in fulfillment of their responsibility to get at the truth and to hold the powerful to account."
"Should this pass without resistance," CMFR added, "it will likely be followed by other acts in furtherance of the Duterte regime’s march to tyranny, among whose first casualties will be free expression and the free press." (READ: Foreign correspondents hit Duterte ban on Rappler)
Duterte banned Rappler from Malacañang a day after his aide, Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go, faced a Senate probe prompted by stories from both Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer on a controversial frigate deal.
Daniel Bastard, head of RSF's Asia-Pacific Desk, said in a Wednesday, February 21 statement it was "completely unacceptable for President Duterte to deny accredited journalists access to press conferences and events at the Malacañang Palace."
He said the decision "not only speaks to a desire to control journalists’ work but also confirms that the Philippine authorities want to crush an independent media outlet known for the quality of its investigative reporting."
The CMFR is a Philippine non-governmental organization (NGO) seeking to uphold press freedom and promote responsible journalism in the country.
Meanwhile, the RSF is an independent NGO for media freedom issues, with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF). – Rappler.com