By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The request of Communications Assistant Secretary Marguax “Mocha” Uson to reclassify Rappler and her challenge to the authority of Palace reporters to cover the President are “misplaced,” according to Senator Grace Poe.
Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, on Thursday weighed in on the recent pronouncements of Uson against members of the press covering President Duterte.
“The move to marginalize Rappler in its coverage of the Palace and to demand the legal authority of the Malacañang Press Corps to cover the President are both misplaced and inconsistent with the essence of press freedom and the people’s right to be informed of the President’s activities and pronouncements,” Poe said in a statement.
Earlier, the assistant secretary for social media, in a letter she sent to her boss Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, questioned the accreditation of the online publication. Lacking a print or broadcast counterpart, Uson said Rappler should be classified as “social media” and should thus fall under her jurisdiction.
But the independent Malacañang Press Corps, in which Rappler is a member, slammed Uson on Wednesday and said it “deplores any attempt to curtail press freedom.”
Poe supported the MPC, urging the PCOO to accept “objective and fair” press coverage.
“A strong and independent press can only help build a vibrant democracy. As part of an administration that prides itself of passing the first FOI (freedom of information) executive order, the PCOO should welcome objective and fair coverage from the press,” she stressed.
“We must remember that even criticism is necessary if we want an open and transparent government,” she added.
Uson has been accusing members of the media as “biased” against President Duterte, even coining the term “presstitutes” to lash out at journalists. She, on the other hand, was known to have circulated a number of “fake news” in her social media blog.
But during the public information and mass media panel’s inquiry on fake news last October, Uson claimed she was also a victim of supposed fake news from the media. Poe has yet to schedule another Senate hearing on the spread of false information where more “bloggers” would be invited.
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