Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Wednesday, January 17, welcomed the statement of the National Press Club (NPC) saying “the exercise of press freedom and the freedom of expression has not been affected or threatened with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) decision on Rappler”.
The SEC revoked Rappler’s certificate of incorporation due to the latter’s violation of the constitutional provision limiting the ownership and management of media entities exclusively to Filipinos.
“So it is not an issue of the freedom of the press. It’s an issue of upholding the constitutional ban on foreign ownership as far as the business of mass media is concerned,” Roque said in a Malacañang press briefing held in San Fernando, La Union.
“You cannot claim a violation of the freedom of the press unless there is a prior restraint or actual censorship,” he added.
Roque underscored that the SEC gave Rappler the opportunity to be heard and an ample time to comply with the law.
“(B)inigyan sila ng pagkakataong marinig, binigyan ng show cause order, sinabihan na mali iyang iyong PDR (Philippine Depositary Receipts) na nagbibigay ng control sa mga dayuhan. Ang sinagot nila: Walang mali diyan, inaamin namin, walang mali diyan!,” Roque recounted.
In a related development, Roque debunked news reports from Rappler that Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go intervened in the multi-billion-peso frigate procurement project.
The President’s spokesperson narrated a chronology of events to disprove Rappler’s claim, showing all stages in the procurement—from submission of bid documents to declaration of winning bidder—happened during the previous administration.
“Ang tanging ginawa lang po ng administrasyon natin sa pamamagitan ni Secretary Lorenzana iyong Notice of Award na. So bakit pa po manghihimasok ang kahit sino dyan eh done deal na po yan?” Roque said, referring to Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana who issued the Notice of Award to Hyundai Heavy Industries on August 18, 2016.
Under the government procurement law, once a bid has been awarded it is then given a Notice of Award.
‘Self-rated poverty declined 44%’
In the same press briefing, Roque was pleased to announce that fewer and fewer Filipinos were considering themselves poor.
Citing the latest report from the Social Weather Stations (SWS), he said that Filipino families considering themselves ‘mahirap’ or poor dropped to 44 percent in December 2017.
“(Our) campaign to alleviate poverty continues as we strengthen our social protection mechanism which includes conditional cash transfer, social pension for indigent senior citizens, supplementary feeding programs, among others, while expanding opportunities in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries to make food available in every table,” Roque said, assuring everyone that no one will be left behind in the Duterte administration. ### PCO-Content