Briones: No exclusivity, money involved in Rappler-DepEd partnership

Bong Santisteban
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones cites the Securities and Exchange Commission decision to revoke the articles of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings as the basis for the department's termination of its partnership with Rappler

 CLEARED. Secretary Leonor Briones clarified in front of campus journalists and teachers that there was no  exclusivity nor money involved during its six years of partnering with Rappler. Photo by Hans Ray De Guzman/Central Visayas

MANILA, Philippines – Less than two weeks after the Department of Education (DepEd) severed ties with Rappler, Secretary Leonor M. Briones finally broke her silence on the issue. 

In a press conference held after the opening ceremonies of the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Dumaguete City on Monday afternoon, February 19, Briones said that, contrary to allegations, there was no exclusivity and money involved during the 6 years Rappler engaged with DepEd.

“Walang pera at hindi exclusive ang ating pakikipagtulungan,” Briones said. (There’s no money nor exclusivity involved in our partnership.) She added that the partnership with Rappler was “good.” 

Briones emphasized that the DepEd was “a friend to all media.”

The education secretary, however, cited the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision to revoke the articles of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings as the basis for the department’s termination of the partnership. 

“Ang DepEd ay isang government institution, at we operate within the mandate of law. At may deklarasyon sa isang institusyon na mataas na kredibilidad, na sinasabing kinansel ang registration, hangga’t hindi maayos yan hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ang Rappler,” Briones explained. 

(DepEd is a government institution and we operate within the mandate of law. There’s a declaration from an institution of high credibility saying the registration is canceled. Until Rappler can fix that, they should not be allowed to continue operating.)

She stressed that this decision was not hers alone. 

“Hindi lamang desisyon ng secretary ng Department of Education, pinag-isipan ito ng buong executive committee. Pinag aralan ng husto letra por letra ang desisyon ng SEC at nakita namin na medyo may kahirapan ang pagpatuloy ang ating pakikipagpartner,” Briones said.

(It was not just the decision of the secretary of the Department of Education, but of the whole executive committee. We scrutinized it letter per letter and we realized that there’s a difficulty in continuing the partnership)

Briones further explained that there’s a section in the SEC decision saying that, even under appeal, Rappler is barred from continuing its operations. 

“So wala nang bisa ang registration, kaya walang choice, nagdesisyon ang DepEd,” Briones said. (The registration is revoked. That leaves DepEd no choice.)

The DepEd position is inconsistent with SEC’s clarification that the online news organization is still free to continue its operation while the SEC decision to revoke the media firm’s license for allegedly violating the constitution is not yet “final and executory.”

“Rappler can exhaust legal remedies. [They can] appeal to the Court of Appeals within 15 days. Meanwhile, SEC decision is not final and executory,” SEC Spokesperson Armand Pan said on January 15.

On February 1, Manila Times published an article alleging Rappler of having “an exclusive contract with DepEd to cover the annual Palarong Pambansa.” A week following this story, DepEd notified Rappler,  through a letter dated February 7, that it was terminating its existing Memorandum of Agreement with the social news network without giving any reasons. 

The termination happened two weeks before the NSPC in Dumaguete City scheduled on February 19-23 where Rappler was expected to work with DepEd for the conduct of various activities in the week-long event. The partnership between Rappler and DepEd for NSPC included the holding of the online publishing demo contest, TV Broadcasting contest, and the concurrent session. (READ: By ending Rappler-DepEd partnership, the only losers are the kids

Dubbed as the “Olympics of Campus Journalism in the Philippines,” NSPC gathers the best budding journalists from all over the country. In 2017, Rappler provided full coverage for the week-long campus journalism event that ironically rarely attracts headlines in mainstream news organizations. 

Since 2013, Rappler has also consistently covered the Palarong Pambansa, a week-long sports event led by DepEd. In April 2017, Rappler, in partnership with DepEd, also trained over 120 campus journalists and school paper advisers on multimedia reporting in preparation for the coverage of the biggest youth sports event in the Philippines. –