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Rappler insists gov’t can’t ban reporters from covering Duterte: Trabaho nila ‘yan!

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Rappler reporters have reminded the Supreme Court (SC) that the press is the “fourth estate” and cannot be banned by the government from covering the news.

“It has rights guaranteed by the Constitution that the Executive Branch cannot take away,” read the reply of Rappler reporters who have been asking the SC.

The reply was filed in connection with their petition which sought before the SC to impose a temporary restraining order (TRO), a status quo ante order or writ of preliminary injunction against the ban imposed by Malacanang which prevented it from covering President Rodrigo Duterte and other Malacanang events due to Rappler’s failure to meet the requirements for media accreditation.

The petitioners named as respondents the Office of the President, Office of the Executive Secretary, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Media Accreditation and Relations Office and the Presidential Security Group.

“To be sure, the facts of this case show that the so-called ‘accreditation’ requirement is not made in good faith but is a mere pretextual justification to implement the Chief Executive’s ban,” read the reply.

The petitioners pointed out “the Government cannot dilute the rights of the free Press, such as denying access to newsworthy events held in public venues, under the guise of imposing an ‘accreditation’ requirement.”

“Neither can ‘accreditation’ as a condition for the exercise of rights by the Press be justified as part of the power to ‘reorganize’ the Executive Branch. Again, the Press is not part of the Government. That is why it is called the Fourth Estate. The President’s power to reorganize cannot apply to private organizations. It applies even less to a constitutionally-protected Press,” argued the petitioners.

The petitioners added that the executive branch has no power to determine who are considered members of the free press as they cited provisions of Republic Act 4363 and Presidential Decree 576.

“Thus, it is only the free Press, not the Executive Branch, that has the power to say whether or not Petitioners are legitimate journalists or not,” they explained.

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