MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has as much right to ban a reporter from Malacañang as a homeowner who throws out a rude guest from his "home."
"Sarili 'nyong tahanan, babastusin kayo ng bisita, masisisi 'nyo ba kung palalabasin sa tahanan 'nyo 'yung nambabastos? Ganoon din po ang Presidente," Roque said on Thursday, February 22.
(If your guest is rude to you in your own home, can you blame it if the rude visitor is told to leave? It's the same with the President.)
"Ang nangyari rito, pinapasok ang Rappler, si Pia, sa tahanan ng Presidente, dahil ang Malacañang naman po ay tahanan ng Presidente. Eh nabastos po ang Presidente," said the spokesman.
(What happened here is, Rappler, Pia, was allowed into the home of the President because Malacañang is the home of the President. Then the President got offended.)
Roque said Duterte was angered by Ranada's and Rappler's continued coverage of the P16-billion Philippine Navy frigates deal even after the Senate hearing on Monday.
Roque claimed this should not have been brought up again as the hearing had "proven" that reports by Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer are nothing but "fake news." (READ: Rappler statement on Bong Go's 'fake news' accusation)
"Yung pagpipilitan mo na katotohanan ang napatunayan na fake news, pambabastos po 'yon, uulitin ko. Tahanan naman iyan ni Presidente (When you keep saying what's been proven as fake news is the truth, that's being rude, let me repeat. That's the home of the President anyway)," said Roque.
He added that Ranada and Rappler were "allowed" to cover Malacañang even after the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) decision to revoke Rappler's registration out of Duterte's "generosity." (READ: FAQs: Rappler's SEC case)
"It was only the generosity of the President that allowed Pia Ranada and Rappler [to report] despite the SEC ruling," said Roque.
The SEC itself, however, had said that the decision is not yet "final and executory." Rappler did not seek a temporary restraining order on the ruling because it believed in good faith in this SEC statement.
The Malacañang Press Corps, which screens and accredits membership of media covering the Palace, had also said that Ranada continues to be an MPC member unless the SEC ruling becomes final.
Rappler had said it will exhaust all legal remedies related to the ruling, beginning with a motion for reconsideration filed before the Court of Appeals.
This is the first known instance, after the Marcos regime, where the sitting president banned a news group and a journalist from setting foot in the Malacañang compound because of critical reporting. – Rappler.com