Online news organization Rappler has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to lift the almost two-year coverage ban slapped against it for events of President Duterte here and abroad.
The online news organization asked the SC justices to clarify: Can the President pick who’s legitimate media and who’s not? Can he restrict access to public events?
It told the SC the Palace ban against its reporter from covering President Duterte’s public events was violative of the constitutional guarantees on free press, free speech, equal protection, and due process of law.
In its 66-page reply, Rappler pointed out that the Palace ban constitutes prior restraint, which the high bench has repeatedly disallowed for abridging freedom of expression.
Its reply read: “Involved here is the invocation of executive power and an attempt by the Government to directly interfere in the workings of the Philippine press.”
“The question posed by Petitioners affects intersecting fundamental rights under the Constitution. Thus, the Honorable Court is duty-bound to demarcate clearer borderlines between the press and the executive branch, which is a settled disposition of hierarchy of courts,” it continued.
It further said in its reply the need for the high bench to determine if the Executive Department has the power to ban a member of the press from covering newsworthy public events.
Pia Ranada, Rappler reporter assigned to the Palace was banned from entering the gates of Malacañang on 20 February 2018.
She was the only media personality from the Malacañang Press Corps who was banned not only from the Palace activities but also from other activities of the President.
Other journalists joined Rappler in a petition for intervention particularly Tina Monzon-Palma, Luis Teodoro, Marites Vitug and John Nery.
The trio asked the high bench to grant the relief sought by the online news organization and order the Office of the President to allow the news outfit and its reporters to cover President Duterte’s public events.
They claimed the ban violates press freedom, free speech, due process and equal protection under the 1987 Constitution and also constitutes content-based prior restraint.