SC allows other journalists to join Rappler petition vs Duterte coverage ban

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed dozens of other journalists to join Rappler's petition to end President Rodrigo Duterte's coverage ban against the news company.

The SC en banc issued a notice resolution on Tuesday, August 14, that granted the petition for intervention filed by 41 reporters, columnists, and anchors from different media organizations. It means the SC recognized their legal standing to join the petition even though the ban was imposed only on Rappler.

A significant press freedom test case under the Duterte administration, the Rappler petition argued that the coverage ban violates constitutional guarantees of a free press, free speech, equal protection and due process.

The SC also granted the separate petition for intervention filed by media advocates led by artist-activist Bart Guingona, who is the convenor of Media Nation.

"The interventions allow a broader invocation of freedom of expression. and the press, outside of the rights claimed by Pia Ranada and Rappler," said Ted Te, lawyer for the intervening journalists.

The SC en banc also ordered officials of the Duterte government to answer Rappler's main petition, as well as the petitions-in-interventions of the other journalists. They have 10 days to submit their comments to the High Court.

"We Rappler journalists are heartened that the Supreme Court is acting on our petition," a Rappler statement said. "The justices' decision to let other journalists join our petition shows the coverage ban affects not just Rappler but other media organizations and practitioners as well. We hope our case can be put to the test of oral arguments so we can finally get answers from Malacañang and see how sincere it is in respecting freedom of the press."

The journalists' petition-in-intervention asked that oral arguments be held. 

Among those who signed the petition for intervention are ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) anchor Tina Monzon-Palma; Solita “Winnie” Monsod, currently a presenter for GMA News and Public Affairs and columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Lourd de Veyra, currently a presenter for One News; Inquirer columnist John Nery, former editor-in-chief of Inquirer.net; and Melinda de Jesus, Vergel Santos, and Luis Teodoro of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

Dozens of other journalists from both television and print outfits also signed, including current and former members of the Malacañang Press Corps and young reporters covering the metro and police beats.

The petitions argued that the ban constitutes prior restraint, which the SC has repeatedly disallowed for abridging freedom of expression.

The intervening journalists argued that the vague reasons provided by Duterte and Malacañang for the ban has exposed other journalists to vulnerabilities of also being banned in the future. 

That is why the journalists ran to the SC to avoid future coverage bans from happening.

Duterte’s ban against Rappler has been in effect for nearly 16 months now, barring Rappler reporters from covering his public events. Rappler’s Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada, who is an accredited member of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), remains barred from entering the Palace.Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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