THE government’s top lawyer supports the ban of online news website Rappler from presidential events, saying it failed to present a “genuine issue on the alleged” abridgment of free press.”

Rappler failed to comply with accreditation requirements and attempted to portray the coverage ban against it as an “alarming threat to press freedom,” the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said in a statement yesterday.

“The government recognizes the role of free press in our democracy,” it said. “But our people deserve news reports from legitimate media organizations that comply with rules on accreditation, respect the decisions of tribunals and obey the Constitution and our laws,” it added.

Rappler and its reporters in April asked the Supreme Court to stop the illegal coverage ban, saying it violated press freedom.

Rappler also argued the ban violates the right of a free press to self-regulate, the right to due process and the equal protection clause because it had been singled out.

Rappler palace reporter Patricia Marie I. Ranada was first barred from entering Malacañang on Feb. 20, 2018. The ban was later expanded to all events of the president. The ban was then extended to all Rappler reporters including correspondents in the provinces.

Mr. Duterte in March last year ordered the ban against Rappler at any of his events, accusing it of misreporting.

“The mere act of the government enforcing its accreditation rules does not, in any way, affect or trample upon the petitioners’ constitutional freedom of the press,” the Solicitor General said.

“This constitutional right certainly does not include the right to demand a special press pass, special accreditation, or special spot at any news conference or press briefing.”

The high court in July ordered the Office of the President, Office of the Executive Secretary, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Media Accreditation Registration Office and Presidential Security Group to comment on Rappler’s petition.

The court also allowed 41 reporters and columnists from various media to intervene in the case. The ban stays in the absence of a court injunction. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas