SC orders palace to answer Rappler suit

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THE SUPREME Court has ordered the government to comment on the petition of online news website Rappler, which was banned from covering President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

In a notice dated July 30, the court gave the Office of the President, Office of the Executive Secretary, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Media Accreditation Registration Office and Presidential Security Group 10 days to submit the pleading.

The ban stays in the absence of a court injunction.

Rappler and its reporters in April asked the tribunal 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 court also allowed 41 reporters and columnists from various media to intervene in the case.

Rappler welcomed the court order allowing the intervention. “We hope our case can be put to the test of oral arguments so we can finally get answers from Malacañang and see how sincere it is in respecting freedom of the press,” it said in a statement. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas