Rappler Correspondent Barred from PDP-Laban Rally

CMFR/PHILIPPINES — A correspondent of online news site Rappler was made to leave the premises of a university in Cagayan de Oro where President Rodrigo Duterte led a campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino –Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on 24 March 2019. 

Cagayan de Oro is 1408 kilometers south of Manila.

Two men from the Presidential Communications Operations Office – Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO) approached and asked Rappler correspondent Bobby Lagsa to leave the grounds of the University of Science and Technology in Southern Philippines (USTP). The incident happened after the reporter’s “man on the street” interviews outside the gymnasium where the PDP-Laban rally was being held.

Prior to the incident, Lagsa had been denied accreditation to cover the campaign rally on 23 March 2019 so he decided to interview those outside the rally venue instead.

Lagsa told CMFR that he was leaving the university canteen when two men from MARO asked which news organization he represented. When the reporter told them it was Rappler, the men said he was not allowed inside the university. One of the men asked him to leave “bago pa tayo magkahiyaan (to save you from further embarrassment).”

Lagsa was then escorted by MARO officials and Presidential Security Guards (PSG) out of the university.

Rappler is a known critic of the administration’s policies. Early in 2017, the President banned Rappler and its Executive Editor Maria Ressa from covering presidential events and press conferences. The news site is also facing several charges, among them cyberlibel and tax evasion. It is also battling the government’s revocation of its incorporation papers.