STATEMENT: With Rappler ban, Duterte also violates public right to know

Today, April 11, we went to the court of last resort, the Supreme Court, to question an unlawful and unjust order to ban our reporters from covering President Rodrigo Duterte.

This case is not just about Rappler. It is about every journalist’s mandate to cover without prior restraint or threat of punishment the Office of the President and scrutinize the tremendous power it holds. (READ: Rappler asks Supreme Court to end Duterte coverage ban)

It is about the freedom of the press, which is what our fellow journalists fight for every single day – in and out of their newsrooms.

It is about the public we all serve and who are served best when the media are able to freely provide them with information, however critical it may be of government. 

The Philippine Constitution is clear: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press.”

Yet it has been 14 months since the President has barred us from covering him anywhere he goes. He has not issued any written order but only a verbal command that, because he thought we peddle “fake news” and lies, no Rappler staffer should get anywhere near him.

During that period, we repeatedly appealed to Malacañang for reconsideration and even went to the extent of asking him personally in January 2019, through our Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada Robles, to lift the ban.

That ban has not only stayed, it has extended to our coverage of campaign sorties of administration candidates where the President is a guest.

We trust that the highest court of the land will see the ban for what it is: a violation by the executive branch of a fundamental right that the Constitution guarantees a free press. –