Malacañang bars Rappler reporter from tuberculosis prevention event

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Malacañang bars Rappler reporter from tuberculosis prevention event
A night before the event, the Department of Health informs Rappler that Malacañang did not approve its accreditation for the launch of the Philippines' initiative to end tuberculosis

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang again refused to accredit Rappler to cover an event which President Rodrigo Duterte is set to attend, this time the launch of the Philippine initiative to end tuberculosis, scheduled for Tuesday, April 23.

Rappler’s health reporter Sofia Tomacruz earlier confirmed with the Department of Health – on Wednesday, April 17 – that she would cover the event. The DOH’s media unit took note of Rappler’s confirmation.

Up until Monday afternoon, April 22, DOH included Tomacruz in its message informing reporters of measures to be taken for the event, such as which entrance to take and what the proper dress code would be. 

On Monday night, however, the DOH’s media relations unit told Tomacruz that Rappler would no longer be able to cover the event after Malacañang did not approve her media accreditation. Duterte is scheduled to speak at the event. 

“Good evening, Sofia. As of this time, your media accreditation for the event tomorrow on TB is not approved by Malacañang. Sorry for the inconvenience it may cause. Thank you,” DOH’s media unit told Tomacruz in a text message.

Malacañang’s refusal to accredit Rappler for the tuberculosis event comes after the company, its reporters, and regional correspondents asked the Supreme Court to end Duterte’s coverage ban against them, calling it unconstutional and warning how it threatens other media organizations and freedom of expression in general. 

The ban against Rappler in the President’s public events has been in effect for 14 months now. Rappler’s Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada, who is an accredited member of the Malacañang Press Corps, remains barred from entering Malacañang Palace. 

Duterte’s ban against Rappler started on February 20, 2018. Rappler stressed the ban violates press freedom.

“It is not the government’s role to say who can cover what, and when, and where. There is a clear line between a nation’s officials, and the press whose job it is to hold them accountable by informing the public of their actions,” Rappler said in February 2018.

A month later, the ban was extended to include Rappler’s provincial correspondents, which the news outlet described was an affront to local media.

“It is an attack – not just on Rappler but on the local media outlets and journalists’ associations that our stringers belong to. It is an affront – to the locals, whose homegrown watchdogs are not allowed to be the voice of their communities,” Rappler said in March 2018.

It added, “Malacañang and the President are merely finding excuses to avoid public scrutiny and to control the narrative on public affairs.”

Other officials expected to attend the health event include Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Quezon 4th District Representative and House of Representatives health committee chairperson Angelina Tan, World Health Organization officials, and officials from scientific institute International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, among others. –

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