MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe hit Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson’s move to reclassify Rappler from membership in the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC) to social media as “misplaced and inconsistent with the essence of press freedom.” (READ: FACT CHECK: Can PCOO reclassify Rappler as ‘Social Media’ under Uson?)
Poe is the Senate committee chair on public information and mass media. Read her statement in full:
The move to marginalize Rappler in its coverage of the Palace and to demand the legal authority of the Malacanang Press Corps to cover the President are both misplaced and inconsistent with the essence of press freedom and the people’s right to be informed of the President’s activities and pronouncements.
A strong and independent press can only help build a vibrant democracy. As part of an administration that prides itself [with] passing the first FOI executive order, the PCOO should welcome objective and fair coverage from the press. We must remember that even criticism is necessary if we want an open and transparent government.
On November 7, 2017 Uson penned a request to her boss Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar to reclassify Rappler from membership with the Malacañang Press Corps to a member of “Social Media” which falls under her office.
In a statement, Rappler refuted Uson, saying the premise of her request is misinformed and misplaced on 3 counts: government does not have the power to regulate independent media; the MPC operates with its own by-laws, free from government control; and that the PCOO’s Interim Social Media Practitioner Accreditation covers only individuals and not news organizations.
Meanwhile, the MPC hit back saying it “deplores any attempt to curtail press freedom and will continue to ensure a strong free press, keep the public informed, and the government in check.”
In another letter to her superior dated November 8, Uson requested for documents pertaining to the MPC. – Rappler.com
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