Malacañang reporters temporarily barred from Palace grounds
MANILA, Philippines – Members of the media were again barred from entering Malacañang by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Tuesday, May 1.
Reporters and crew of state-run PTV4, ABS-CBN, UNTV, and Johnson Manabat of DZMM were among those stopped at the Palace gates. After around 20 minutes, they were allowed inside.
PSG Chief of Staff Colonel Potenciano Camba told Rappler that the reporters, all members of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), were initially not allowed in due to stricter security measures imposed due to Labor Day activities.
"May heightened alert lang dahil Labor Day tapos nagcoordinate muna kami with PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) kung sino 'yung papasok kaya medyo nadelay lang ng konti," he said in a phone call.
(There was heightened alert because it's Labor Day and we coordinated first with PCOO who will be allowed in so there was a delay.)
PCOO Undersecretary Mia Reyes was not informed of the PSG measures. She was clueless when MPC members alerted her about the incident.
Camba said the PSG did not expect members of the media to report to work in Malacañang since it was a holiday.
"It's a holiday, it's Labor Day so we didn't expect that many from MPC will be working here," he said in Filipino.
However, it's been the practice for years for media to work in the Palace even on holidays. Also, during previous holidays under the Duterte administration, media workers were never barred entry.
Asked if this could happen again in the future, Camba said, "It depends."
"It depends on the situation. If there is heightened alert, we need to be more strict. We will also need to coordinate with the office concerned to facilitate entry," said Camba.
The last time PSG barred a member of the media from entering Malacañang was after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a ban on Rappler reporters from presidential coverage.
Rappler reporters are still not allowed to cover any event the President is attending. To date, there is no written order of the ban. (READ: TIMELINE: Malacañang's evolving statements on Rappler ban)
To explain the ban, Malacañang has said Duterte was "annoyed" by Rappler's coverage and that he was merely executing the Securities and Exchange Commission decision revoking Rappler's license to operate. This despite the SEC itself saying that their decision is not yet final and executory. Rappler is appealing the decision.
The Duterte administration insists it respects press freedom even as it has come under fire for its media restrictions in Boracay and the President's foul-mouthed tirades against media outfits.
Because of Duterte's rants, the Philippines slipped 6 spots in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. – Rappler.com